Love, Laughter, and Owning Our Story

 In Stories From My Life

Love, Laughter, and Owning Our Story: Last Friday was an private, loving family time honoring our Hero, my father, Jan “Papa” Porembski.

I let my girls lead their involvement. Arie and Sophia were welcome to simply be in the lobby of the funeral home, sharing the same building as Papa’s body for one last time. They brought markers and a book to color in.

I didn’t know how the day would go, I only knew I needed to own this part of our story in a way that resonated with me. I hesitate to share this raw portion of our journey, but I feel led to report that even here God was so present.

There was no need for fear in this natural part of life.

We were thankful that our friend, Pastor Ron Wean, acted as our advance team, dubbed “The Canary in the Mine.” He made sure all was well in advance of us. All was very peaceful. Nothing to be afraid of.

My daughters genuinely surprised me with their acts of love, wisdom, courage, and hope. They volunteered together to walk forward with me.

The night before, they had written loving notes which were placed with Papa. Alone, the three of us let tears mingle with memories. In time, stories led to unexpected laughter, lilting through the halls of a funeral home, celebrating our Papa.

He used to say to my girls and me, “I love being surrounded by your laughter.” And so he was.

We were still our special brand of Us: Undefeated.

Sorrow and love slow-danced together on this snow covered morning.

The morning Papa passed was full of emergency activity. In the hustle, we didn’t have a chance to say a peaceful and fond farwell.

God was with us in such a strong manner then and now. He went before us, was in the moment with us, and now guides us in peace each day.

At one point last Friday, Arie turned to me and said, “I’m proud of you, Mom. I’m proud of who you are.”

We reclaimed ground that day, intentionally crafting our own ending, closing this chaper in our lives with peace and love.

We knew my father’s body would be cremated after we left. Ever the budding journalist, ten-year-old Sophia asked me what that involved exactly and I said…

“In days of old, when a mighty warrior went to heaven, that warrior’s body went out in a blaze of glory, lighting up the night sky in one final act of bravery. In a modern way, while his spirit is with God, that is the journey of Papa’s body today.”

“It’s just the husk that his spirit has outgrown,” Arie said.

Having bid our farewell, I quietly drove home. Sophia declared, “Papa wouldn’t want us to be sad all the time. He wants us to enjoy our life. Will you put on the radio?” And as odd as this sounds, I joined my girls as we sang Christmas carols in the car.

The peace was thick, almost tangible. When we pulled into our driveway, we were welcomed to a sparkling winter wonderland. My girls gasped and ran outside.

I choose to believe God responded to Papa’s warrior blaze with a display of incredible beauty, bringing the splendor of my father’s Poland right to Atlanta for all to enjoy.

Oh, Death, where is your sting?

That day wasn’t easy, but it was also filled with palpable hope, beauty, and peace. Thank you for your prayers. We are so thankful for the real hope that Jesus gives us in grief.

Rest well, Papa. We love you and are proud to be the living legacy of a Mighty Warrior who daily walked out the Heroic qualities of dignity, determination, humility, genuine forgiveness, authentic communication, peace and unconditional love.

Papa, you are our Hero.

You ran your race with excellence, Daddy. I know you now cheer us on in our life-race. In God’s time, we will see you at the heavenly finish line. For now, we revel in the beauty that surrounds us and reminds us of you.

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