A simple salute--part 2

It was an incredible scene: As the funeral home brought Ray back home last Friday, 8,000 people lined the streets in the small town (10,000 or so) of Andrews--giving Ray Bevel a heroes welcome. Every business except the hospital closed. Prison Guards outside of the prison walls payed homage. Flags waved. People cheered, cryed & remembered a friend they loved. How do you express support and love as a city any better?

On Monday, 1,300 packed the civic center and it was an awesome cite. I don't think I've ever had a more difficult singing assignment. I was full of emotion and had to try to disconnect from the reality that a 22 year old wife of 1 year was burying her husband. Two brothers wept--the older who could hardly walk, just devastated by the reality he faced. The younger, 1 month away from being deployed to Iraq. A dad that never stopped crying. A mom who held a flag like I hold my sweet baby Olivia in my arms--but a universe away from my joy.

I watched as the older brother went to the coffin as it was lowered into the ground. Weeping. Shaking. Desparately wanting to deny the truth. I imagined what my big brother would do if that were me. I wept. Shook. Desparately praying against that thought--hoping for many more years with my loved ones. Weeping at the loss of my own daughter, Hope Victoria, who I never got to hold, but who I got to see and fall in love with. Wondering what it would be like to bury my family. Praying to God that I never have to bury a grown son. Begging God to let me be the one who has to bear the loss of my wife someday, so she doesn't have to go through the pain without me. All kinds of weird thoughts just flooding my soul.

I'm the youngest, and I guess I've just assumed that I will bury my parents and siblings. I've even prepared myself for that reality in some ways, telling myself that it's the "natural order" of things. But the truth is that God's process and plan is different than my own. I hope that I will be the last to go in my Wall clan--the youngest song of Phil, the youngest grandson of Pauline. But whenever God decides that my tour of duty is done complete, I've intrusted myself to Him. He always knows what is best--but I'm going to live life to the fullest baby!

I hugged my wife longer and more often this week. I called my family just to tell them I love them. I've told my kids I delight in every moment God gives me with them. I thank God for my wife, kids and life. I am so blessed and grateful for the way God reminded me to live --even thru Ray's death.


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