In a home with seven people and a dog, noise is a constant. I’ve learned to tune a lot of things out: loud yelling, loud music, loud howling, loud thumping, loud et cetera. However, what’s perhaps more astounding than my ability not to avoid hearing things is my ability to recognize when a certain noise is indicative that something horribly wrong has happened.
It was early summer 2015, and my youngest siblings had recently undergone amputations. They had just got their casts off and were moving around independently. Carlee needed to have a second cast put on her lower leg to give it more time to heal, so she needed to be a little more restful and cautious.
Emmett seized his new freedom to run around as soon as was released from his cast. My dad was chasing him around the house one day, and he inexplicably injured himself when he reached down to sweep him off the ground. This resulted in my mom and I having to pull him up from the floor so he could go to the hospital. When my parents returned from their trip, they informed me and my siblings that he had pulled a muscle in his back and just needed to rest.
I went back downstairs, and it wasn’t even ten minutes before I heard a loud bang: that unnatural kind that demands serious attention.
The last time this type of crashing had happened in my home was a month before. Since my dad and I were on a trip to Idaho, we weren’t there to hear the thumping. However, we were awakened by a phone call at 11 PM from my mother saying that someone had kicked at our front door and a group of shady figures were seen walking through our development. At this time, Carlee and Emmett still had their casts on. There were only women and disabled children in the house, and we were a state away. It was an unnerving experience that had a lasting effect as I dwelled on the possibility of such a thing happening again, whether I was home or not.
So, when I heard this noise, I had a few things going on in my head. At the forefront of my mind were my vulnerable siblings and father who really couldn’t afford a fall of that magnitude. Buried a little deeper was an underlying tension caused by night prowlers with potentially malicious intent. When I flew up the stairs, I wasn’t expecting to be greeted by the scene before me. On the floor isn’t my sister or brother or father. Rather, lying on the carpet is a painting of Jesus in Gethsemane and my grandfather. Or, more accurately, the cremated remains of my grandfather.
This last summer was particularly intense for the un-air-conditioned PNW, so we were keeping our doors and windows open during the day when we were home. Since there was so much air blowing through the house, a gust of wind found its way behind the portrait, knocking it off the hearth and dashing a marble urn containing my grandfather’s ashes on the fireplace, shattering the urn and scattering the remains over the floor.
Right on my heels into the room was my mom, who responded in a much better humor than I did. She proceeded to wisecrack, pick up the larger pieces from the carpet, and set them back on the hearth. She went to tell my dad, saying, “This is bad, bad, bad!” When my dad heard the news, his response was, “Well, don’t vacuum him up.” This caused him to laugh, which was a painful experience due to his strained muscles.
Meanwhile in the living room, I don’t think that everyone was upset about this as they should be. At my patience’s end, I erupted at my sister who immediately went to her room crying, which is very unlike her. The tensions had built to a breaking point, and I just snapped. It wasn’t my proudest moment; in fact, I was and am very disappointed in my response. However, I can look back on the situation and laugh at something that in the moment was not very laughable (at least for me).
I’m not sure what I could have done to prevent such a loss of my wits. My grandfather’s ashes were not my grandfather; they were the dead remains of what used to be part of my grandfather. Rationally speaking, I didn’t have a reason to be so upset about his urn cracking open in my living room. My emotions, both lingering and immediate, overpowered my rationality. I can move forward and hope that such an explosion doesn’t happen again, and I can pray that God will illuminate to me what I can learn from this slightly mortifying and darkly humorous anecdote. And at the end of any anecdote, my relationship with God and my hope in His good work is really all that I have.