There’s an old joke where a guy asks another guy how of friend of theirs is doing. “Not so good,” he says, “he fell out of an airplane.”
“Oh no! That’s terrible!”
“But he was wearing a parachute.”
“But the ‘chute didn’t open.”
“But fell out right above a big lake.”
“But there were piranha in the lake.”
“But the piranha didn’t get him.”
“But he missed the lake.”
This past week the elusive Donna’s dad had a fall that led to some pain that led to some tests that revealed that nothing was broken but instead found an advanced form of cancer in his body. How much does that suck?
The prognosis is not good and once again the distance between where we live and where he lives seems wider than usual. The next few days and even hours will bring tough choices with uncertain outcomes leading to an inevitable conclusion.
Last night I got to hear the replay on a conversation that my two boys were in on. The gist of the conversation among a small group of mostly Christian young adults was that death is no big deal. They ignored that the death of a friend provoked he who is both Resurrection and Life to cry, and ignored the raw feelings of those in the group who are watching their grandfather slip painfully out of this world. It’s exactly the kind of answer that makes people who don’t know Jesus wonder if those of us who do are playing with a full bag of marbles. Death sucks and dying sucks even more. It’s not original to the plan, God doesn’t like it anymore than we do.
As I’ve written before, I’m asking for 80 years. I don’t know if I can take more than that and I do have confidence that checking out of here will mean checking in to a much better gig. But I’m like Scrooge, I’d like a little display of affection at my passing, some tears, some charity, some sign that I will be missed.
Donna cried for a week when Nathan left for Ireland for a year. When his alarm clock went off the next morning and I went into his room to shut it off I cried like a baby. Sure, Nathan had gone to a ‘better place’ but it still meant that everything had changed. Sure, some things were ‘for our good’, our grocery bill was nearly cut in half and fresh fruit and chocolate chip cookies lasted a lot longer, but I’d have traded it all back just to hear him down in his room playing guitar and singing some Billy Joel or Dave Matthews. Loss hurts.
Clearly death is sometimes a welcomed friend, releasing us from pain and suffering. But for those of us who remain I wonder, if we do not hurt can we say that we’ve truly loved?
If you’re the praying sort, we’d deeply appreciate any prayers that you can whisper for Donna’s dad, for us, for her brother and family who are at a distance and for her two sisters and their families who are up close and facing the brunt of this every moment of every day.