Yesterday, in between interviews and phone calls and the other things that make up a typical day for me, I plundered the photo albums in my office, for photos of Bill. Katie was going to make up several mini albums that evening to display at the church today at his funeral.
Going through two decades of photo albums was like stepping into a time machine.
There were years and years of parties--celebrating weddings, Christmases, special birthdays, the arrival of babies, trips to various places, staff retreats etc.--our lives woven into the lives of the people with disabilities that we support.
Several things struck me as I went through the albums:
Some of us were a lot thinner a few years ago
Some of us had a lot more hair
We party a lot
The people we support really do have a good life
We are a lot more like family than anything else
Today we came together to celebrate a "home-going."
While there were tears, there was also laughter. The man we were remembering today was celebrated by a flock of people who loved him. He truly had a good life and had an impact on many people.
There were two tables with displays of special treasures Bill had kept over the years. On one there was a small black New Testament that I had not seen before. The pages were yellowed with age. The small book was 60 years old! Inside, these words were written:
To Billy Shaw
from his Sunday School teacher
"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household."
The prayers that no doubt were sent to heaven on Bill's behalf by that teacher, and by the mom he loved and missed so much and who was a believer, were answered in many ways along the way. They were completely answered in recent years when Bill's room mate took him to church and said to the pastor, "Pastor Rick. Bill needs Jesus." One day soon after that Sunday, Pastor Rick had a visit with Bill in his apartment and prayed with him as he made his commitment to Christ.
As we visited after the funeral over the lovely luncheon kindly provided by the ladies of Bill's church, many people mentioned seeing the rainbow on Friday evening. It seemed that everywhere people spotted it and marveled at its unusual intensity and size.
Until we meet again Bill!