I have, unfortunately, been around a lot of death over the past 6 weeks. Two funerals with church members, the untimely death of a young girl who is the cousin to one of my parishioners, the death of an 18 month old, and an uncle from each side of my family. It's been hard and emotional. I have had some form of connection to each one of these people who have died, if not directly then indirectly through friendship and such. It doesn't really matter how well you know a person when they die, I mean it does, but what's really difficult is watching the survivors try to sort it all out, that makes it painful, that makes it tough for everybody.
The Onaway Church two of it's greatest, most supportive and patriotic saints in Clarence and Tom. Both these men were life long Methodist who worked hard to see that the work of the church continued. Their deaths we unfortunate, but not untimely and not sudden or out of place. I was fortunate to celebrate the lives with their families. One of my favorite waitresses from the local restaurant lost her Grandpa this week and one of my parishioners, a young mom, lost her 17 year old cousin to a tragic car accident over the weekend.
My Uncle Keith died in October. He overdosed on Oxy. He had no children that we know of, he was a life long addict and never could hold a job. But he was my uncle, my mothers baby brother and it's hard. He died for no real reason, he died young (54) and he died without having accomplished much in life. Despite all that he will be missed and there is loss associated with his passing, if only it's experience by my mother, its loss and it's significant.
My other uncle, from my fathers side, died after a very brief (3 months) battle with lung cancer. We was my dads baby brother. I never have seen my father cry, not even at grandpa's funeral, but when Rick died...he sobbed. I was not close to Rick, but I am close to his sons, my cousins, who are like brothers to me and whom were estranged to their father for the past two years. I'm sad, because they (cousins and dad) are so impacted by this sudden passing. He also was and most likely will be the last owner of my families business in Northville, MI, the Asher Citgo/76/UniCal/Pure Oil gas and service station, circa 1948. All those memories, my grandfathers legacy, a life time for multiple generations died with Rick that day.
As sad and tragic as all those things are they are hard pressed to compare to the loss that my colleagues Mike and Bri have expereinced. Their 18 month old son Carl recently passed away after a long battle with lukemia. He died last week at his home in his mother arms. TRAGIC. I only know Mike and Bri through various district and conference events, but of all the deaths I've been around the past 6 weeks, even the ones in my own family, none have touched my heart, made me cry and just simply stopped me in my tracks like the death of baby Carl. I hope and pray they find peace and hope in their faith that sustains them through this thing which no parent should ever have to experience, the death of their baby.
With all that sadness and death and stuff it's had to look up, it's hard to see straight and to keep moving forward. The one thing that provides peace and hope is the promise of resurrection. St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians puts it this way, "We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’- I Corinthians 15:51-54
Because of Jesus we win. Death is not an end as it aspires to be, but a beginning, an eternity of peace and rest. God rest the souls of all who have died over these past weeks and may the peace of God which transcends all understanding grant those who are left behind hope.