Saying Goodbye, and Being Amazed

This past September, my older brother Marty passed from this life.  His body was cremated, and after a few months of finding the perfect resting spot, we gathered together this past Saturday to bury his remains at the Cedar Grove cemetery in Lebanon, TN.

Marty loved to go tour cemeteries, and could often be found on free weekends driving all over Middle Tennessee to walk through historic burial grounds.  My parents were able to find a few cemetery plots in this historic cemetery in Lebanon, in one of the oldest sections, near an old Civil War general whose statue is in the middle of the Lebanon town square.  He would have loved it.

We had a beautiful, personal, simple ceremony with just our immediate family.  Everyone said some touching, and some lite-hearted remarks.  We cried, we laughed, and most importantly we had closure.

At the end of the little ceremony, Marty’s two daughters, his wife, my sister, and my daughter placed flowers on the spot where his ashes were buried.  Then his son, Nathaniel, took a $2 bill, and placed it with the flowers.  He said “Dad always told us to keep us a $2 bill with us so if something happened to us, we’d have the entry fee into Heaven.”  Sounds exactly like something Marty would have said.

Early Tuesday morning of this week, a massive tornado hit Middle Tennessee.  It hit first in the Nashville area, and stayed on the ground to Cookeville.  In between Nashville and Cookeville is Lebanon.  Along the path of the tornado was Cedar Grove cemetery.

Here are a few pictures of the damage:

Trees down at the gate where Marty was laid to rest.

Tree down in the cemetery.

Look at how the wind just snapped this old tree like a twig.

I just knew after I heard that the tornado ripped through that area, that the flowers, the $2 bill, and the sod placed on top of the burial site would be gone.  Mom and dad went out, as well as my sister and her husband, to go check it out on Wednesday.  And here’s what they found —

All the flowers were still in the exact same spot.

But here’s the most amazing thing – the $2 bill was still there:

The $2 bill Nathaniel placed in the flowers was still there after the tornado ripped through the cemetery.

I don’t think this was a “God-thing.”  I don’t believe it was divine intervention.  I just think it is absolutely amazing.  And here’s why – Marty was always a pretty chill dude.  He took after my Grandfather Smith in that regard.  If a tornado was headed straight toward Marty, I could see him saying “This is pretty cool.” and then just hanging out watching it.

I’m grateful for my brother’s life, his example, and now i’m grateful for this closure.  May you truly now rest in peace.  Miss you big brother.

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