We had an impromptu family gathering the other week. James' brother and family came to Oregon. We were lucky enough to have them stop at our house.
The kids' loved having their cousins to play with and go to church with them.
James's sister joined us at their parents' house and suddenly there were even more cousins to play and craft with. They made rubber band bracelets and duct tape wallets.
The unfortunate part of the family gathering is that it happened because James' older brother passed away. He was 45 years old.
He was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when he was about 22. For the next 10 years, he was able to live a fairly normal life. He married and had four children.
But gradually the disease took it's toll. For the past several years he's been bedridden. He fought through many infections and close calls and always pulled through before.
This time it wasn't to be though. His family were all able to say their good-byes and that is a blessing not everyone gets.
We were handling this well enough until the funeral. That was the hard part. Very emotional. My heart broke for all of Mike's family, including his parents and his siblings.
James, his brother, his father, his brother-in-law and his nephew were pallbearers. A friend of the family had made the casket.
It was a difficult day, despite the knowledge we have in the eternal plan of salvation. But it is our faith in God that made it bearable.
I know that families are forever and that we will all be reunited and whole again, someday.