One would think that I would have learned this lesson sooner. I lost both my husband and my daughter with no warning. It was sudden and unexpected in both cases. I learned a lesson recently from a friend who is walking through the valley of the shadow of death. We never know when anyone will die, so we should love with full hearts and forgive with full hearts and live every day with intentionality and purpose to the fullest extent.
I have been walking with my friend for the last month or two via messages on Facebook. She is a young woman with three young children and a husband who all love her and don’t want her to go. Her mother has already lost a child less than a year ago and doesn’t want to lose another. I guess our conversations have made me aware of the fact that my faith is real. I believe that there is an eternity of life with God- if we choose to believe in Him. We all die! My dad used to tell me this- “Nobody gets out of this life alive.” I was furious as a child to hear that. Both of my parents were orphaned in their teens and I wanted no part of losing my own parents! Thankfully, they lived full lives, and yet eventually they did die, proving my father’s words to be true. My father would be 99 tomorrow, October 30, and my mother would be 96. Her words of wisdom to me at the time of her death were, “ Love is ALL that matters.” And then, “Love never dies.” These were also words of truth. She once asked me why God didn’t just take her. She suffered greatly for years before she died. I told her that God had things to teach me – through her. She did teach me how to live and die with grace.
Being in daily conversation with my friend who is struggling with a cancer-ridden body, I am constantly reminded that death is imminent, and sometimes sudden. It pounds the facts into my little brain that wants to constantly deny that this life will most certainly end. If I accept this fact and truly believe it, then my life should reflect the impending truth and importance of being kind and loving others. For who knows when this life will end for either myself or anyone I interact with? Being face to face with death, we are stripped naked of all our artificialities and the denial that we hide behind. We eventually have to face our Lord and Creator. If given advanced notice- like my young friend, we examine our deepest thoughts and relationships that are niggling under the layers of life, and we try to make peace, forgive, and even say, “goodbye”.
So I am trying to learn this life lesson- to make and keep things right and true in my relationships with God and my fellow humans. We have all been given a diagnosis of “TERMINAL”. Pretending that life would continue on indefinitely did not serve me well when my three closest family members died in a 60 day period -and then a few years later, I lost my 37-year-old daughter.
We have to come out from behind the curtain and greet the truth of the temporal nature of both life and death. Live life NOW. Be prepared for death NOW. Be kind, forgiving, loving, and seek God NOW. For tonight might be our very last in this life. Tomorrow may not come- or it might come without someone we love being here. We can choose to do as my beautiful mother did- to live and to die- with grace.
“Come close to God and He will come close to you. [Recognize that you are] sinners, get your soiled hands clean; [realize that you have been disloyal] wavering individuals with divided interests, and purify your hearts [of your spiritual adultery].” James 4:8 Amplified Bible
D. Anne Jones