The funeral was over. Flowers occupied random empty spots in our house. Silver foil containers filled the refrigerator. Michael’s room appeared the same as the morning he left it for what became his last hospital stay.
The morning after the funeral, sitting silently at the kitchen table, were the heart-broken weary remains of a family unsure of how to proceed. That’s when I started to weave together something my brother shared with me a few days prior.
Words shared in a conversation my brother had with Jessica, resonated in his spirit and prompted him to speak it out to me. He suggested my family take a trip immediately following the funeral, to allow some unfamiliar space and time without interruption to assist the healing start. Although difficult to do without Michael, that’s what we did. Middle of March 2005 just days after Michael’s funeral my husband Donn, our daughter Jessica and I boarded a plane headed to Florida.
Looking back on it now, I can honestly say it was a string of divine intervention. Beginning with faith filled words spoken then shared, to a travel agent able to plan a trip for us in a matter of hours, despite spring break challenges. On to other extreme acts of kindness lovingly demonstrated by others, such as those who knew Jessica’s hearts desire to see a Twins game under the Florida sun.
We rarely speak of that March trip in 2005, unlike our other vacations that we relive in story after story and pictures galore. However, it deserves attention especially since it filled purposes beyond earthly comprehension. What began as a respite from the unimaginable became a time of grace. In our new family dynamic as three plus one angel we talked, laughed, cried, and rested. For days we repeated that process, safe in Florida's embrace. What resulted was a resolve to focus on Michael’s life, not his death and press forward to the day we see him again; all because of love.
Love surrounded us on that trip. It was the gentle force we desperately needed to step out in faith. Its flow continues, supporting the decisions that keep moving us forward. In any situation, even healthcare, when life’s good and bad are spoken out and shared it makes overwhelming possible. Words turn into a compass that gives direction to a path never walked upon before.
March 10th, fondly referred to as Michael’s Heaven Day by a family six years lonely for the dream weaver. We can honestly say we walk through our grief knowing unlimited depths of love and confident waiting in and on the other side of painful grief experiences is the very One who holds him now.
In memory of the change maker, our hero Michael Zimanske, Be The Change!