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I can picture it perfectly in my mind. As I write this from my dorm room, it was just this past summer

I am standing there; we’re up in the mountains. All of our family came up the trail; even one the baby second cousins, carried by his dad. My aunts and uncles are here, my parents and brother are here, my grandma Nani is here. It’s a beautiful day—a blessing from God. Somehow there’s always beauty, even in sorrow. But the beauty doesn’t take away the sorrow, it’s just a reminder that there’s a God out there who loves us.

The sky is a bright blue; it smells like the high mountains. The forest is lovely; a stream runs nearby even though we cannot see it. It’s fairly early in the morning. Nani and Mom and Ian and I came up here earlier to look at the place, to try to find the perfect place. We found it, and it was perfect.

But I am crying, and not everything is right and perfect in the world. Not everyone is crying, though you can tell they are sad. One of my aunts cries, and one of my cousins. Some of us are misty-eyed, some of our voices catch, and some of us wait for later to cry. Almost all of us are Christians; my parents are Christians, much of that was due to Papa and Nani praying for them. We love Jesus and are growing in Him; slowly, like a mountain tree in all the seasons.

One day all of us will be ancient mountain trees surrounded in the forest by our children; standing strong even in winter when the snow hangs like a dead-weight from us. Even when the blizzards come and the harsh winds blow. Even in summer when the wildflowers bloom and our hearts are filled with such a joy that we want to shout.

My dad is like one of those mountains trees; he reminds me of Papa. Papa left a legacy behind; that legacy was all of us—he loved all of us so much.

Papa is gone now.

Well, gone from here. He’s with Jesus now. No more walker, eyesight that is perfect again, perfect hearing not damaged by flying WWII planes. And he’s with Jesus—that is everything.

We take turns reading Bible verses. I am crying. I have withdrawn into myself; my face cold and frozen and hard, my arms crossed tightly in front of me, hugging myself. I can never perfectly hide pain; if I am sad, I cry. One of my aunts gives me a loving hug and asks how I am doing; I am grateful, but I say I am all right. Getting a hug will just make me cry more.

Then the service is over; the words have been spoken, goodbyes are made for the millionth time to Papa, and his ashes are buried.

I am crying a lot now; not sobs, just lots of silent tears drifting down my face and soaking my shirt.

I am crying now as I write this, and I brush away the tears because I am going to a class in precisely an hour, and I do not want other to know that I have been crying.

Nani comes over and gives me a hug. She is not crying; she grieves in a different way. My friend Brit is like that; she doesn’t cry as much as I do. I cry easily; if something moves me in a worship service, I cry. If I am sad or frustrated, I cry. If I see another’s pain, I cry for them.

Nani is strong for me; but she lets me cry. She is strong; athletic, like myself. She tells me it will be all right. I know it’s all right because Papa is in heaven. But it’s not all right here; not for those of us left behind.

But she holds me; and I cry until I feel better. Then I put away the grief. I put it in a box, lock the key, then put it in a precious place. I can’t always be grieving, or else I could not continue on with the things in life I must do.

I look up at the blue sky and the mountains surrounding us. I listen to the river that we cannot see. I pick a few wildflowers on the hike back down the trail; Papa loved wildflowers, just like I do. He used to walk this trail every morning. I put them in my little Bible that I keep in my purse; saving them. Little memories.

I lift up my eyes to the hills, and I remember where my help comes from. My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

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