Sarah Davis stood at the podium, looking out towards the sea of faces staring back at her. The church was overflowing this Saturday morning. Some, she knew, came for answers. Others came to gawk and wonder. Yet she knew all of them. As the silence grew thicker, she cleared her throat and began.
“I don’t want to be here,” she started, almost angrily. “I would give everything I have not to be here today.” She lowered her eyes to the casket in front of her, gleaming quietly in shades of shiny gray.
Her eyes filled with tears but she blinked them back. She would not cry now or she would never be able to get this out as she wanted to.
“I don’t want to be here, ” she repeated quietly, “but I am. We all are. To say good-bye to Maddie and Mark. My darling daughter and first grand baby….” Her voice broke and she stepped back for a moment, fighting for control. Pastor Rick moved towards her but she shook her head and moved back towards the podium.
“My daughter and grandson were taken from us and we are here to say good-bye.”
Sarah waited a moment, looking at the familiar faces in front of her. Maddie’s best friend was in the front pew, openly crying. Another friend also had tears running down her cheeks, her shoulders shaking as she tried to hold back her sobs.
“Maddie and Mark were everything to me, ” Sarah continued, her voice stronger. “My only family, always my greatest joy. I can stand up here and rail against fate, saying it’s not fair and it’s not right that my family should be taken and that SOB who killed them while driving drunk walked off without a scratch. And, dammit, it’s not fair!” Again, Sarah paused as sobs filled the church. When silence once again filled the church, she went on gently.
“But we all know life isn’t fair. It’s about making the best of what we have to work with. So, after crying and screaming and getting oh, so angry, I thought last night. How was I going to get through this? Because it was either get through or curl up and die myself.”
Sarah moved down towards the casket, where her daughter and grandson laid together. She ran a soft hand lightly over the top of the casket while she continued to talk. “But the fact of the matter is, Maddie and Mark are exactly where we all want to be. God called them home.”
Looking at the crowd once again, she made eye contact with several people. “God called my babies home because, in all reality, they are his babies. He wanted his family to come home because I’m sure…” She choked up once again. “I’m sure that he missed them while I had them down here with me.” Looking up to see if people were comprehending what she was telling them, she suddenly found it vitally important to get them to understand. Lifting the picture of Maddie and Mark which rested on their casket, she lifted it above her head before hugging it close to her. Closing her eyes, she whispered, “God shared two of his children with me….Maddie for 21 years and Mark for one year. Not nearly long enough for me but too long for Him. The only reason I am before you now…the only reason I can stand here and say good-bye…is because God took them home with him. Back to their home long before I ever had them.”
Stepping up to the first pew, she gently wiped the eyes of a blond-haired girl and gave her a brief hug. “Kenzie, Maddie and Mark were called home. While we hurt and we will always hurt and miss them, they are now where they are supposed to be.”
Kenzie nodded and smiled faintly when Sarah gave her an encouraging hug. Moving on, Sarah hugged a few more people before she made her way back up to the podium.
“Do not feel sad for Maddie and Mark as they are safe and they are with their Father, who loves them. Feel sad for me for being without them, feel sad for yourselves as you will miss them. But know…please know this…Maddie and Mark at a peace.”
Suddenly tired, Sarah sat down next to Kenzie, who held her close. Sarah felt as if she had done the job God wanted her to do. To explain than He needed his children home. Now she only felt drained and limp. She knew that life from this point on would be a struggle, but she also knew without a shadow of a doubt, she would not have to worry about Maddie and Mark. They were with God. Back at home where they belonged. And, God willing, she would see them again.