Taps: God is Nigh

sorryMy childhood was spent watching my mom burst into old dance routines, wishing I had half her rhythm (I still don’t). I rolled my eyes but this in itself was–is–our routine. My mom is a beautiful dancer and along with that, she was–once upon a time–captain of the drill team. Sometimes, at night, and in my memory, it is always in the autumn, just as summer turns, she would sing these words, her arms following the grace of the old routine: Day is done, gone the sun. From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky-

I didn’t really understand the words for a long time. I only knew they were good words, hearty words. Simple and perfect. I understood one thing though: my mom called forth words from long past, calling them to action with her voice and her arms and her legs, little soldiers always sung to life in the dusk. Her arms moved the through the air as she spoke-sang them and I was comforted as only children can truly be comforted.IMG_8917

This weekend, I traveled an unlikely distance to be at my grandfather’s side to say goodbye. We all thought we would have longer, although now it seems hopelessly optimistic. I am the type of person who marks things–with my writing, with photographs, with a keen memory. I’ve never had to mark the end of a grandparent’s life before (not purposely, not as an adult) and so as I traveled to see the man who could fix anything–not things of the heart or feelings but anything made of wood and nails–I kept hearing the lyrics to Taps in my head.

Day is done, gone the sun

From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.

Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near
Falls the night.

Thanks and praise for our days
Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky
As we go, this we know

God is nigh.farm

While we sat beside him, the WWII vet who still dreams of the war, the oxygen machine seemed to gently lay the words in the air so they need not even be spoken by my mother or anyone else. In fact, my mom does not even know that this song played over and over in my mind since I stepped foot in Union Station in Chicago and made my way to the long dead town my dying papa slept. It felt like a heartbeat in my chest. I wanted to say them but they could not come from me. I thought the magic words must come from my mom but then I remembered the song could no longer comfort me as it did when I was little.babes

At one point, Papa had a surge. He was suddenly and startlingly–for a few hours–himself aware of his state, aware of me, aware of the hush. I told my papa how much I loved him and he told me, “Of course we love each other. We’re family.” The crabbiness that followed him throughout life fell away then so maybe he was more himself in those hours than he was ever before in life. I told him God loved him even more than I did. Papa said he knew that too. I read him a psalm. I prayed silently in my head, words running together so none of it made sense, especially when papa fell away and his body took over for him–a frail body breathing with a beating heart and not much else, suffering. (As I write this, the suffering body lives on though it should have gone days ago. That was and is the hardest and most complicated part.)

In the room, with him, the old song came back to me again. I realized that’s all I wanted him to know. God is nigh.IMG_8923

All of us were exhausted, especially my mom, grandma, and aunt. I wanted to someone to sing it over all of us–and I didn’t want it to be my mother or myself because we needed to hear it too–but someone to sing it over all of us: my grandfather, my grandmother, my aunt, my mother, and me. While we sat beside him in the hush, I suddenly knew that Someone was singing, slowly with a kindness and gentleness we all needed, if we only had ears to hear.

zephaniah

Day is done, gone the sun

From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.

Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near
Falls the night.

Thanks and praise for our days
Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky
As we go, this we know

God is nigh.

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31 thoughts on “Taps: God is Nigh

  1. sarah

    I am in tears reading this, Nina. You write so beautifully, yet I am so very sorry that this is what you are going through right now. I’m praying for you and for your family.

    1. Nina Post author

      Sarah, writing is my solace so I am glad that it touched you and thank you for your prayers. As of this am, he is still here but struggling. Please pray that he would not feel pain and for strength (they are exhausted) for my mom, grandma, and aunt. Thank you so much.

    1. Nina Post author

      Thank you. I just want to do him proud and honor his life and the special time I had with him. Love you. Your words always mean the world.

  2. Julia

    This is exquisite, so perfectly written! That’s one of my favorite scriptures. I’m so sorry for you and family to be going through this, praying for peace and grace for you all!

    1. Nina Post author

      Julia, writing is where I make sense of things (or try to) and also find my solace. Thank you. We appreciate your prayers so very much!

  3. Jaelan | Making Mrs. M

    Oh Nina. I know this is such a difficult time for you and your family. I’m praying for comfort for all of you, and peace.
    It’s amazing that your grandpa had a time of clarity while you were there. I’m glad you got to tell him that you loved him and that God loves him.
    Hugs, sweet girl!

  4. Kelli B

    Praying for your comfort, Nina. Your family sounds so amazing. What a great attitude your grandfather had and what a sweet heart. You write so beautifully, my friend. You should right a book. Seriously, you have a gift.

  5. Pam Martens

    This is absolutely beautiful, Nina. My tears are still rolling, but we all know your Papa is at rest and in a better place. Much love and many hugs are coming your way. Thank you for sharing your Papa with your gifted talent of writing.

    1. Nina Post author

      Pam, thanks so much for commenting. I am trying to keep it together…I received the call at work. He is gone to be with Jesus and for that I am grateful. It’s hard not to be closer to my mom right now to help but I am so thankful for last week. Thanks again for saying something and most especially for being there for my mom and my aunt.

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