You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy (Psalm 30:11).
The lobby in the funeral home was elegantly furnished with rich marble floors, deep mahogany furnishings and crystal lamps. Exquisite artwork embellished three walls and a mirror the size of Rhode Island adorned the other. With nowhere else to look, I caught a glance of my legs under the table in the waiting room. My right foot danced a silent jitterbug as my left foot bounced up and down underneath it.
Finally, the door opened. “Christy. Right this way, please,” the director called as he motioned me to follow.
He opened the door to another room and offered his condolences. After I was seated, he gently slid some paperwork across the conference table where we were sitting and asked me to fill out some paperwork. Most of it was retrieved from memory except for the insurance information. I had recently received a form at work in my benefits update that included additional coverage for dependent burial expenses. I was thankful that at least that was one less thing I had to worry about. I told the director that the information was at my office, but since I hadn’t been to work in days, I gave him the number of the human resources manager at Local Oklahoma, the bank where I worked. He advised me he would give her a call and would be right back.
After he left, I began visually designing Jake’s memorial program. I already knew what picture I would use for the obituary.
The morning of the accident, John, who was my fiancé at the time, came to pick me up for my high school reunion picnic. I just had a roll of film developed and was anxious to show John a picture of Jake that I loved.
“Look at this picture of Jake,” I said handing the picture to John.
Brittany was sandwiched between Jake and Garrett reading their favorite book, Words of Wisdom for Little Folks, while they looked for the ladybugs hidden throughout the illustrations in the story. Besides being an enchanting snapshot of family unity, the reason I loved this picture so much was because of Jake’s smile. Something about that picture pierced my heart.
“Isn’t it the cutest picture you have even seen of him?”
“Yes, babe. Really cute.”
“He looks like an angel. I’m surprised there’s not a halo over his head.”
“He sure does.” John said fishing for his keys. “It’s ten after ten. We don’t want to be late.”
Although I knew my treasured photo of Jake was the obvious choice, I began to mentally struggle with whether or not it was appropriate. It was taken right after bath time and he wasn’t wearing a shirt. I wanted his obituary to minister to those who read it and bring honor to his life.
I found myself wishing I had a studio picture of him. I knew he was only a toddler, but he should have clothes on. Maybe if I had it cropped just right, it wouldn’t be noticeable.
Eventually, I became aware that the director was taking a little longer than I thought necessary to obtain my insurance information. My fingers stroked back and forth on the textured upholstery fabric of the chair, tingling my fingers.
Finally, the door opened again, but something in the director’s stance communicated bad news. “I contacted your employer,” he began. “But your insurance doesn’t cover dependents.”
My heart sank to my feet.
“I’m sorry. You’ll have to make other arrangements for the funeral expenses.”
Other arrangements? How was I going to take care of expenses of that magnitude? I stood in disbelief and shock. Not knowing what else to do, I assured the director that I would take care of it somehow.
Outside of the funeral home, I simply threw my hands up in the air and exclaimed, “God, you’re going to have to help me! I can’t do this!”
Some prayers God has no choice but to answer immediately. Later that day, the bank president heard about the accident. Filled with concern, he called Human Resources to find out if I had coverage. When the director advised that I did not, his command came without hesitation, “Take care of the funeral expenses.”
When she delivered the good news to me, all I could do was cry in amazement.
Everything from his plot, grave marker, video for the funeral and custom memorial programs I had made at a local print shop were covered. In addition, my co-workers also took up a collection to take care of other expenses I incurred. My God supplied all of my needs. He covered me with his wings and under his refuge, I found shelter.
When Jake’s obituary was published, he looked absolutely beautiful.
The obituary read, Jacob Isaiah, “Jake”, our Forerunner, was ushered into Sierra, “The Presence of God,” on June 13, 1998. Jake’s purpose in life was fulfilled but the testimony of his life will be forever on our lips to proclaim the goodness of God and His loving mercy.
I’ll never forget how I felt as I showed John the photo that morning before we left for the picnic, ten minutes after ten. Something about him radiated newness.
It wasn’t until after I received the accident report that I understood why his picture pierced my heart so deeply. The report indicated that the collision occurred at 10:10 am. That’s why his face appeared angelic to me…because at that very moment, he really was wearing a halo. At that moment, the very hand of Jesus extended out of the heavens, and Jake declared, “See ya later guys, I’m outta here!”
Jacob Isaiah Ennis – As I stared at his obituary, my eyes glazed over to the point that everything was a blur. That’s when it hit me. It was acceptable that he was not wearing a shirt. His lack of attire was intentional. He was clothed in joy.