I have seen many of my loved ones “laid to rest”. Some were old, some were young.
Today the pastor spoke of death, and how it is part of life. It is the only part of life we all will experience, yet few of us have actually witnessed the transition.
I have not been so lucky. I have been present, bedside, of two very dear persons as they have passed. I have also held the lifeless body of an infant. These are all moments that stick in my mind like honey in a honeycomb.
As an aesthetic person sights, smells, and sounds permeate my memory bank. I am a creature drawn to beauty, in every aspect that it may inhabit. You may be thinking I am crazy right now…….how can death be beautiful?
I stood, crying, as my 40 year old uncle died in the hospital of organ failure. I have used his story often as I speak of sin and addiction. An alcoholic druggie, his life was not easy. Yet, we loved him. We prayed for him numerous times as he stared death in the face. He was actually clean when he passed. Yet, the damage he had induced on his organs was irrevocable…….My grandmother stood, as the matriarch of our family, believing Gods will would be done. As he took his last breath, I looked out of the window of the hospital room. It was a warm day, with no winds. Yet at that moment, the wind blew – trees bowed – and I knew. I knew that the peace that passes all understanding was there, and my uncle – with all his fears and all his failures – was standing in the presence of the most forgiving God…..
Years later, I was standing with my husband in a Hospice center, loving on our Mamaw. I say OUR because what is mine is his and what is his is mine. She loved me like I was her own. I adored her. I quote her often when I am making gravy …… “It is easier to add than to take away…..add the flour slowly, mixing constantly, don’t give up on it. You will know when it’s ready.” It was her time though. She was ready……had been for years. She was saved, loved her family, and had lived a long life. As she passed, and we cried, once again there was a wind. . . This time though, there were singing birds. She loved nature – it was a fitting welcoming………
My saddest death experience, however, was the infant I held in my arms. As a mom of three, I still struggle with this. My best friend since second grade – she was practically my sister. . . A late term death by cord strangulation……I prayed, my family prayed – even my addict uncles, for a miracle. No one should ever have to go through this kind of loss. Yet, there we sat in the waiting room. There were many families there as well, awaiting the arrival of a new family member. We sat, praying it was a mistake. Praying that as soon as she was examined, all would be well, the baby would be fine. One by one, we were called back. The baby had been delivered, and we had the opportunity to visit with the new parents…….The new parents who would, days later, bury the tiny baby that I would soon be holding. He was perfect. He had his daddy’s nose and his momma’s lips. But the longer we had him with us, the more he decomposed. I burned the shirt that I had worn that night. It is a smell I will never forget…….
At the funeral of this tiny babe, a friend broke down and asked the mourning mother how she could be so calm, so at peace. Her answer is one I will never forget….
“[This child} is the greatest gift I could ever give to Christ. In his short lifespan, he caused so many to fall to their knees and cry out to God. How awesome is that? For a child who never breathed air to cause that? He served a purpose, and now he is with God, and I am okay with that.”
SHOULDN’T ALL OF OUR LIVES SHOUT THAT?
Our LIVES should be beautiful coffins. Only containing a shell that brought joy, beauty, and Jesus to the world. Just like sea shellls, what we leave behind should make people smile, and search for more ……. more joy, more peace, more GOD………..
So today as you celebrate Easter………..
LIVE YOUR LIFE AS IF IT IS THE LAST THING THOSE WHO ENCOUTER YOU WILL SEE YOU IN.
The empty tomb
24 Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, the women went to the tomb, bringing the fragrant spices they had prepared. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in, they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 They didn’t know what to make of this. Suddenly, two men were standing beside them in gleaming bright clothing. 5 The women were frightened and bowed their faces toward the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He isn’t here, but has been raised. Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Human One[a] must be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” 8 Then they remembered his words. 9 When they returned from the tomb, they reported all these things to the eleven and all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles. 11 Their words struck the apostles as nonsense, and they didn’t believe the women. 12 But Peter ran to the tomb. When he bent over to look inside, he saw only the linen cloth. Then he returned home, wondering what had happened.