I recently read of a mother dying of cancer. Far from anxious, she was ready, even through the tears. She was bed-ridden through her last weeks, and people came to visit. From near and coming from airports, hearts in their throats lest she be already gone.
She received the visitors from her pillow…but she did not lay her head down. Even in the last days, people felt comforted by her. Seeking to care, they were cared for by her kindness.
This lady was given the chance to stare death in the face as it came toward her, and in the end she saw it true that God’s furious love was stronger. His promises strong and she left the proof in the love she left.
I know of another family who is also planning a funeral this week. The day before his twentieth birthday their son died in a motorcycle accident and without saying goodbye, he is gone.
Are there unspeakable regrets about the last time they said, I love you? Do they feel that all they are holding are empty clothes? After all, what does a person leave after twenty years?
We claim to be prepared for death, but the truth is that we will always be jolted to hear of it. That moment never ceases to be shocking – when we realize that the memories we have, are the memories we will always have. The legacy has been given and there is no chance to change it.
So what will I leave behind? What would you?
My thoughts run from small to large. Pie to patience. What gifts do I leave? Perhaps some quilts. Will the kids remember me for running through the sprinkler? Will I have a long history of inviting people to Sunday lunch?
Peculiarly, I feel unmotivated to leave a single minded memory behind – perhaps because I know it is entirely futile to plan these things.
In the end, people remember what they remember.
The only thing you can do is what you would do anyway. Pray. Forgive. Sing. Trust.
In fact, for great good, God uses the strangest things and I have no doubt that if we recognize faces in heaven we will hear the funniest conversations.
“I know you, Great-Great-Great -Grandma!” somebody will say, “You’re the one who failed that ridiculously simple test…spilled macaroni in the grocery store…always licked your plate…broke a finger while bowling.”
And you’ll think did I do that? And laugh, because after all, it won’t really seem to matter.