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Looking at Life Through the Lenses of Death

The doorbell rang. Larry was there, and welcomed our guest. From my curled up position on our family room couch, I recognized the voice to be Patty’s. Her gentle, sweet words carried like a melody from the foyer. Holding a hanging basket of soft yellow petunias, she greeted me with, “I brought these for you to enjoy all summer. I want them to remind you of your Daddy.”  Unexpected tears…

Then Patty issued an invitation. “I want to take you to lunch and just listen to you talk. I want you to tell me everything that has happened.” Her words reached deep, igniting within my soul the realization of how very much I want to talk.

So, will you allow me to talk?  Right here, right now? I promise not to stay forever on this piece of emotional geography, but for now, I want to talk.

Trust me, I am peacefully joyful and tearful amidst this cauldron of emotions. My heart soars for all I have to be thankful. And yet,

I want to talk, because death is teaching me so much about life.

Looking at life through the lenses of death I see:

Relationships rise like the glow of the morning sun when death comes to call-

My own life paraded before me in the context of Daddy’s death. Relationships of a lifetime surfaced and provided a steady stream of comfort: my boyfriend when I was a 3-year-old, my kindergarten companions, my grammar school classmates, my high school friends, my university relationships, and more…way more. Aunts, uncles, cousins - first, second, third cousins, and friends…make that Friends with a capital F; friends came out of the woodwork. From around the globe, this collection of people coalesced together to teach me the eternal value of our temporal relationships.

Looking at life through the lenses of death I see:

1st Responders are the saints God sends to push away the thunder clouds of sorrow-

Celeste with food, Clare with flowers, adult children with their presence, all dropping life to offer comfort. Near and far (a plant from my Bible study, a floral arrangement from our church group) the ministry of 1st Responders takes my breath away.

Looking at life through the lenses of death I see:

In spite of death, life goes on-

My Mother and I waited for the hospice nurse to arrive, we waited for the coroner to arrive, and we waited for the funeral home director to arrive. Finally, the waiting was over, and for the last time, we walked out the front door of the nursing home to our car. No more waiting.

At 4:00 am the air was warm and the birds were singing. And we were hungry. At her suggestion, Mama and I went through the drive through at McDonald’s.

Should I tell the voice behind the speaker that my Daddy had just gone to heaven? Should I describe the hole in my heart to the worker handing out Egg and Cheese McGriddle’s through the pick up window? I don’t even like Egg and Cheese McGriddle’s. Why did they have to be out of Egg McMuffin's today, of all days, April 21st?

Real life goes on... 

My black pantyhose had a hole.

A snake, a cottonmouth moccasin, was killed at the front door.

A grandchild was sick and needed a doctor.

The children wanted to go swimming when we left the cemetery.

Real life goes on…Even when invaded by death, life beats with a normal pulse.

Looking at life through the lenses of death I see:

Practical suggestions to offer so you can be prepared-

  • Have a black dress ready and hanging in your closet. Likely, you won’t have time to shop.
  • Prepare an outline for an obituary. You don’t want a stranger writing about the life of the one you know so well.
  • Keep your head in the face of your tidal wave of emotions. “I asked the Lord for composure; I wanted to be able to take in everything going on around me.” Mama

Looking at life through the lenses of death I see:

The sacred place of children in the midst of sadness-

After dinner one evening, our four-year-old grandson David climbed into a chair beside his tearful Great Grandmother. With every ounce of his heart, he looked up at her and spoke unrehearsed words of wisdom way beyond his years.

“Great Gammy, don’t be sad. Pappy is in heaven with Jesus, and you will see him again someday. He still loves you, and you are still married to him. Some people just have to die.”

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me for such is the kingdom of heaven.” Yes!


So you see, death is teaching me so much about life.  

"It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart." (Ecclesiastes 7:2) Solomon was right.