A year ago there was sadness and hope – now the sad is tiny but the hope remains. Am so thankful for Jesus who changed everything for Grandma. Here are some words I wrote but never shared..
There was this song on the radio today as I drove across the Harbour Bridge toward my sister’s place. The lyrics were something like “If you only die once, I want to die with you”. It got me thinking, and much of it wasn’t terribly profound. I wondered why you would want to die with someone – as opposed to live. I wondered about the people who come up with these lyrics and the – generalisation – teenagers who earnestly sing them back. And it occurred to me that the heavy words about loving someone so much that life isn’t life without them attempt to beautify something that can never be.
It isn’t. Death. Beautiful.
Even when Baz Lurhman directs it and a thousand candles glitter around the flower-strewn shrine, the death itself is an affront. The noise and the blood – or the silence and the sleep. It is always an affront.
I don’t think you have to believe in life after death to recognize this, but it certainly helps make sense of it. Don’t we all feel, every one, as though death is completely un. Natural, fair, dignified? Sometimes it seems more of these things, or less. But so many lives are lived as though they never won’t be. They are small, and the content of the days is small. The content of my days is so small.
Death jolts you out. If there is time beforehand, it is the juxtaposition of the soon but not yet. The way that 10 minutes from the place where she lies is a shopping centre where you will buy cereal with your Aunt and Father, and remark on how nice it is. The way that you still check Facebook and care about who said what to whom. The way that even as one life narrows, yours just keeps going, congealing around the sharp points, the stark relief, doing its best to make you forget as soon as possible that after a set amount of cereal and Facebook and speaking, you will be lying there, or thereabouts.
The act of living does not prepare us for dying. The ache in our hearts so often pressed down, smoothed over, distracted with ‘what about…’.
When it happens, even if it’s expected – a thousand times if not – it still feels wrong. We grieve. We walk around inside the point. We wonder that this can be all there is.
My Grandma started today as a sojourner and begins tomorrow as a citizen. Just like that. One moment she was here, then she wasn’t. Entirely unremarkable. Unremarkable except when I think about what took place in those moments. The exchange.
So many exchanges. This life for the next. Tears for joy. Temporary residence for home. Fleeting for eternity. And the one exchange that effected all others. Jesus for her, on the cross.
It is because of that exchange, 2000 years ago at Calvary, that she meets him tonight. She meets him as her Saviour and her King. He the firstfruits of the harvest to come.
And that is where this is beautiful. Not the death or the dying, but the what next. The life. The seed that is buried. The first peach on the tree. The great and abundant certain hope that death has not won today.
The affront – what the Bible calls ‘the sting’ – is meant to shake us out of our reverie and remind us that we were made for more than this. So much more than stones and jars and dirt and memories. It isn’t enough. Does it feel like enough to you?
Tonight my Grandma sings in a nobler, sweeter song, her great Redeemer’s praises. I sing here, choked up and raspy. Of life.