I’ve heard from veteran homeschooling parents that their kids in college often struggle with deadlines. So this year I vowed I’d set deadlines and make Ben sweat them, so he’d be used to that particular pain before he was in expensive school. He was trying to finish reading the John Locke essay on Human Understanding over Christmas and I had to revise that vow. I thought essays were usually about 30 pages long. This one was 300. Since my initial estimate was so off, how could I make Ben abide with it? I gave us an extension.
This morning Aunt B died. So, if Ben is going to learn about deadlines, it won’t be this week. I don’t know what my extended family’s plans are. Dan’s instincts are to offer help but give them space to rest and grieve. I’d like to drop by and give hugs, maybe I will at lunch time when Dan can spell me because I don’t want to take M and K with me – they told Aunt B they loved her on Saturday morning when she was able to speak, then I hustled them home so they didn’t make too much noise.
I’m praying the family can sleep, comfort each other with stories of Aunt B, with scripture, with singing. They borrowed Dan’s guitar last night and sang hymns together.
I thank God for making my Aunt. She was fun, thoughtful, flexible, empathic. She helped several generations of teenagers figure themselves out, including me. Between her and Madeleine L’Engle, I knew that science was beautiful, not just useful. I chose Houghton College, because I hoped that it was full of Christians like her who wanted to discuss tricky questions thoughtfully, including environmental issues and poverty. Before I went there, she warned me that not everyone there was a Christian, and not to let it get me disappointed in God. She was right.
This Saturday I overheard my Uncle in the kitchen remark that when people have expressed how thankful they were for her kindnesses over the years, she was sad that she wasn’t able to continue being that person for them. So when it was my turn to sit with her on the couch, I just said, “I love you.” it seemed like a way to avoid burdening her with my gratitude. But I asked God this morning to tell her specifically what I’m thankful for, because she is surely able to hear it now without pain.