I am convinced that I have had the privilege to have known some of the most wonderful people that have ever graced this planet with their presence.
As I sit to write this, I am expecting that in the not too distant future I will hear news of the death of yet another wonderful, dear friend. Again to cancer. Without a miraculous intervention from the hand of God, our friend’s time here on earth is coming to an end. My heart hurts.
I have known this man and his beautiful wife for the last 20 years. They are the type of people who automatically put people at ease. Over the years, their home has been open for many celebrations and they have given of themselves and what they have generously. For us, they have provided friendship, a place to vacation, many laughs, hugs, fun, shoulders to cry on and wise words of love and encouragement.
I was able to spend time with them the other day. He was awake and lucid and spoke words clearly—but the words he said were random and came out in no particular order. I prayed for God to help me understand and I really think the Lord answered my prayer. My friend seemed relieved and would nod when I would say back to him what I thought he was saying. At one point, I told him how great it was to see him. In the few sentences he said that came out completely clearly, he said, “Yes, it is good to see me.” We laughed and he added, “To see you, to see you.” My goodness, how I love that man.
Through the years, I have known several people who have died—my first crush, friends and co-workers, friends of friends, family members. These were all people I cared about on some level, but at the time of their deaths, I either hadn’t seen them in many years or it had been a while since we’d spoken.
My mom’s death was the first to hit me pretty hard, not simply because she was mom, but, in part, because she was the first person who died that I had consistent contact with. There are moments still when I forget, I should call Mom, she would love this. Then I remember, as my eyes well up with tears.
Her death brought out my more philosophical side and made me acutely aware of something I already knew: every single person we know, and those we just pass on the street, will die. Everyone. Take a moment to look around — one day all of it will be gone, every single speck. We all know this. Yet somehow its impact escapes us. Until we are looking right at it. Then after we have faced it, a short time later we usually find a way to forget again.
After opening my eyes to the end of all things, questions formed— if we really are so evolved, why haven’t we come up with a way to not feel the pain of death? Why are we stupid enough to care about others, knowing that one day death will come? What is the purpose of loving if none of us will be alive one day? The only answer that makes sense to me is that we are made in the image of God—our spirits know we were created to love and to live forever.
It was His purpose. Yet, somehow in the greatness of His wisdom He gave us the right to choose. Life or death. Him or not Him. This life is so very temporary—why do we fill it with so many unnecessary things? I could argue that it doesn’t seem all that plain and simple. How are we supposed to know what we can’t see when what we do see isn’t always all that great? Why not go for all I can get? And yet, in the same breath, the eternal value of humans seems so very clear when walking with a loved one through the process of dying.
Yes, I am certain that I have been privileged to have even crossed paths with some of the more wonderful people here on this big, blue marble. However, the amazement that I feel about this good fortune pales in comparison to the knowledge that Jesus intentionally submitted to death for us so that we don’t have to experience it fully—just its shadow. So, when death comes knocking, if we have opened our heart to Him, He will deliver us into His great arms of love.
For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16