Thursday morning at 6:40, Nita died.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
While she was in the hospital, as I wrote before, she spoke of seeing my dad, my little brother, and Jesus waiting for her there on the other side. (As I told a Jewish friend, most Christians refer to St. Peter greeting them. She has Jesus waiting for her. That's probably great insight on her part. But it could be because she was a Baptist. The rest of us get St. Peter. The Baptists get Jesus.)
We will go to Atlanta for the burial. She and my dad had a plot at Westview Cemetary. The body of my dad (Walter), his mother and father (Walter and Heddie Stokes), and my brother (Walter) are buried there. Nearby are the graves of my grandfather and grandmother (Carlos M. and Willilu Hemperley), my mother's brother and his wife (Carlos M. Hemperley, Jr., and Ellen) and one of their children (Mickey Hemperley), and of my father's sister and her husband (Frances and Harold Harris). On the way there from the airport, we will pass by an older cemetary with other ancestors. Not too far away, in Stone Mountain, are even more gravesites of family members. There are Jordans, Johnsons, Lanfords, Paris, Gays, Manns and Travises [yes, those Travises, Texas readers] buried all over Atlanta to which we are connected.
I see Juanita's greeting in heaven as something like that Cingular commercial: a host of people behind the three in the forefront, all waving, maybe singing. And Juanita, who could not sing a note on this side of the divide, finding her voice at last and just thrilled to join in the song.
Juanita said that when you died, you had to go to heaven by way of Atlanta and, while there in Atlanta, pick up your robe at Rich's, once to Atlanta as Macy's is to New York. Knowing that, however, she told me that she wanted to be buried in the dress she wore to Walter and Morgan's wedding, and we had set it aside and then gave it to the funeral people. I don't know how she worked that all out with the people at Rich's, but I have no doubt that it's that dress and not a robe from Rich's in which she entered into God's presence.