How Great Thou Art

this post was written on Wednesday, but I didn’t have a chance to publish it until now.

A week ago today my cousin Eddie was freed from his earthly body and went to his heavenly home. I’m glad he no longer needs to struggle for breath, but oh it hurts that he is gone.

*taken about a year and a half ago*
*taken about a year and a half ago*

About three weeks ago, Joe & I stopped in for a ten minute visit on our way home from a wedding. I knew it would be the last time I’d see him. We’ve been close. There was this connection we had since we both faced diseases that limited our physical abilities. We understood each other without a lot of words and he was a tremendous role model to me.

“My time of fighting is over,” he told me that day. “But you must continue on.”

I didn’t want to hear those words. I wanted to cling to his hand and keep him there with us. He was too young, much too loved and needed by all of us in his family to die! Who would be our cheerleader? He was so strong. We needed to fight together!

The morning before he passed away I received a very special goodbye text from him. “My life is coming to a close. I want to thank you for the encouragement in helping me fight. Prepare to meet me where I am going.”

When Joe woke me Thursday morning and told me Eddie had gone, my mind didn’t process it at first and then reality hit. Joe held me as I cried. “You have to stay calm,” he said, “so you can go to the funeral.”

I had physical therapy that day and we made it about twenty minutes before I had triggered and the session had to be canceled for the day.

I didn’t want to enter the viewing room, I tried to linger at the memory table looking over photos of bygone years, remembering happy times. But time does not stand still and when I saw him lying there in his casket, truly gone, the grief that hit was so intense I wasn’t prepared for it.

I sat there during the funeral and looked around, noticing how even my strong, brave uncles had reddened eyes and did not keep from showing their emotion. I watched the line of funeral-goers pass through the front of the church for the final viewing, so many friends he had and so many lives he had touched in his thirty years on this earth. I saw my cousins file past with their tears flowing. He was everyone’s favorite and all forty-two cousins were there.

IMG_4105-6
*this was the first time we had all been together in seven years. we range in age from the lower forties to one year*

It was almost my turn and part of me wanted to stay sitting so it wouldn’t be real, but Joe helped me to my feet and I walked jerkily up to the casket. It was real.

It’s just his body, he’s in heaven and so much happier! I know all this; but, we’re still here.

I want to ask “Why? Why Eddie? Why did he have to die the terrible, long, suffocating death, typical of the cystic fibrosis disease?” But cystic fibrosis, his response to it and his unique personality helped to make Eddie into the man he was, someone who gave so much to others. Someone worth grieving for. I don’t wish him back…

…I think…

It’s just, I miss him.

Last night I couldn’t sleep and so Joe played some hymns on his phone. The first one, How Great Thou Art, spoke to me. The descriptions of how great God is gave me a sense of peace and comfort. And I knew again that the God who made the world and stars, who sacrificed His Son for my sin, that great God knows what I’m feeling. He knows the grief of my aunt & uncle and cousins. He sustained Eddie, and He will sustain us.

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

Refrain:
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.

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13 thoughts on “How Great Thou Art

  1. *hugs* The last time I was in your shoes, when my Grandma died when I was 10, I remember feeling so lost but its great that you have a Godly perspective to help your grieving, you know? God is so good, even when the seas are stormy

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  2. Hi Joe and Andrea,
    Praying for y’all as you go through this time of grief. Yes! God can and He WILL sustain us through all pain we suffer here on earth! Such a comfort!
    I don’t know y’all real good but I enjoyed the weekend we had together at Penn Valley a few weekends ago at the physically challenged seminar. I want to thank y’all for being an encouragement to me as y’all face life with some extra challenges. I’m so encouraged when I see other people with physical limitations endeavoring to live life cheerfully! God bless y’all!
    Josh Lehman

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    1. Thank you for you kind words and for caring. We also enjoyed getting to know you and have been inspired by how you don’t allow your physical limitations keep you from broadening your horizons. Crutches don’t mean you stay home, you go on mission trips anyway even if stretches your comfort zone. I’ve really admired that.

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  3. This made me cry. I served with Eddie at Milton and Jenn’s wedding. He rode with me to the reception and also shared with me about his cystic fibrosis. I also have cousins that died young because of muscular dystrophy. It is always a sad time when one of them passes on. Blessings to you my friend!

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  4. Thanks for writing about Eddie, his life, his death, and the funeral. I wish I could have known him better! I enjoyed the picture of the cousins. I recognized most of you older ones, but when I got to the little ones, I was lost. But you are all beautiful, and loved!

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  5. Thank-you for posting Andrea, I sat beside his Grandma Knepp at church this evening and meant to ask about the funeral. Our church has prayed for Edwin and his parents many times over the past 30 years. I’m sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine Eddies relief at breathing without effort. PTL Grandma B.

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  6. The tears are flowing as I read this. I really don’t know who you are, but I’m Eddie’s aunt on the other side of his family and I remember seeing you at the funeral but had no idea you were his cousin. I’m so glad you wrote this. Its very comforting to me to hear how close you were to him and how freely he shared of his acceptance of his illness and end of life. I’m so happy for him being with Jesus but so sad for us as we grieve and miss him. He lived the most full and joyful life a guy could live, and that was because of Jesus. I’m really sorry that you’ve contracted such a painful disease but I know, as you’ve expressed so bravely, that you’re living for the same God that Eddie did, and His grace is sufficient to give you joy in the journey too. Thank you so much for sharing about Eddie. I love you for it.

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  7. This made me cry. What a lovely tribute. I had no idea you were related to Eddie. I barely knew him but my sister-in-law and her family attends his church and I know what an impact his life had on their family.

    He will be greatly missed by so many.
    Gina

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