Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it. —Haruki Murakami
Last week’s tragedy will never make sense. No answer will ever be good enough. Understanding will likely never come. A life cut short. Senseless violence.
It has been said that we’re all one phone call away from dropping to our knees. And nothing has ever been more true. Human life is fragile and fleeting. Most of us naively walking around as if we have all the time in the world, as if our days are not numbered, as if we have some sense of control…and sadly, we do not. And while life itself is a gift, we don’t always live like it. Our words, our actions, our brokenness speak for themselves reminding us that we are all fallible humans. Even the best of us walk the line between sinner and saint daily.
So it is no surprise that at some point, we all find ourselves here…struggling with loss in its many forms, be it friendships, relationships, marriages, jobs, hopes or dreams, but I feel it is the loss of life that hurts the most. It’s inescapable. Unavoidable. The grief, the permanency, maybe even the unknown…it fills our thoughts, occupies our hearts and often leaves wounds that never quite heal.
Statistically, death occurs on a bell curve with our most vulnerable moments at the beginning and the end of our life spans. If you’re lucky, it’s something one only deals with during their latter days. We know that death due to age, illness, and disease remain tragic, but a life taken too soon, a life snuffed out, a life robbed at any age hurts as if it’s been compounded tenfold. Many will tell you that time heals all wounds. Maybe. More realistically though, time only allows for space between the hurt.
Finding peace is all circumstances isn’t easy. In fact, it’s a lot of work. If you’re not a Christian, I honestly don’t know how you do it. For me, knowing that I have a God who walks beside me is something that I don’t take for granted. When I am weak, He is my strength. When I am lost, He is my rock. Christ’s ultimate sacrifice reminds us that death doesn’t have the final say. Uncle Ernie was a believer, I take comfort in that. Our lives, our very existence is not in vain. On the mountaintop and in the valley, there remains a plan and a purpose for each of us.
In the days and weeks to come, stories will be told and photos will be shared. In talking with family, we have chosen to focus on the “dash” and celebrate a life LIVED. As poet Linda Ellis explains, “He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.” And what a dash it was! Countless adventures, innumerable memories, and a bounty of friends.
When you’re a kid, life seems so black and white. There’s good and evil. Right and wrong. The lines are clearly drawn. As we grow up, move from adolescence through adulthood, we realize that life is actually more of a marbled gray. Dark shades, complicated, stressful, and uneven as we navigate day to day living among the broken, but intermixed with bright hues, beautiful, joyful, and full of promise! As we all inch forward, I pray that we move from that marbled gray into grace! Life is too short to live any other way. Let us approach each other more tenderly and offer love, patience, and kind words…only then can we truly find resolve (and maybe even peace) along the way.
Rest Easy, Uncle Ernie.
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2 Corinthians 5:1