My life seems to have been strangely touched by a “spate” of deaths lately. The most recent was my Uncle Bill, my Dad’s last living sibling. Strangely enough, my dad is the oldest and has outlived them all (he’s 87 this year). A few mornings ago I was emailing my mom about the recent deaths and I found myself waxing a bit philosophical… and thought I’d share a portion of my comments here…
I’m sure the loss of Uncle Bill has been difficult for everyone, in their own particular ways. Though I don’t consider myself to have been especially close to Uncle Bill, I do have the fond memories of fishing with his family, the dune buggies he used to build, and our visits at their house (and all the pens and salt & pepper shakers he and Aunt Maxine collected). All that is part of my childhood, and as such has a special place in my memory and heart.
It’s interesting to me that though I’ve not really been associated with Uncle Bill for many years (over 20), the finality of his death has created a sense of loss all the same – and one that I’m sure is particular to me.
We’ve had a “spate” of losses in our church family as of late. First a 30-something gal who had been fighting Leukemia for 3 years passed away. Her dear husband who fought the cancer right alongside her has understandably been hit very hard by the loss. Her mother also attends our church… and the funeral service I led filled our little building beyond capacity. It was amazing.
Then a 20-something guy with a 7-month pregnant wife and 2 year old daughter drowned while boating on one of the local lakes, while his wife and daughter stood on the shore watching helplessly. The only “comforting” thing about the situation is that he died saving 2 elementary age girls who were with him in the boat. They were wearing life jackets but he was not. Nevertheless he made sure they made it to shore before the hypothermia overtook him. That service was held at the lake where I died, and there were likely 300 or more people there.
Besides that, there have been all kinds of extended family deaths connected to those in our church family, including Mindi’s grandmother and great-aunt.
When death comes it ALWAYS causes me to think about life, and loss, and eternity, and things of that nature. Though I hate the pain of death, I like to be mindful of those things. Something about the inevitability of death, the unavoidable-ness of it, stokes the fires of ambition in me.
What I mean is this: As I consider the seriousness of life and the reality that I will only be on the planet one time, and a short time at that, I gravitate toward making my “one time” count for eternity… and to do my best to jettison all the junk (personally, emotionally, etc.) that holds me back from doing so. I’m pretty certain that once we hit eternity we’ll see true “glory” and significance so clearly that we will be embarrassed at all the things we allowed to limit, hinder, and sidetrack us from what truly mattered. I don’t want to experience that… whatever it takes.
My prayer is that I allow the painful reality of death to motivate me to rid myself of those “light and momentary afflictions” (2 Corinthians 4:17) now… so that I’ll have the blessing of viewing my life differently then.