Monday, June 23, 2008

When Death Comes

I guess you never stop being proud of your kids, those born to you and those that arrive by the easier method of marriage. I just witnessed an amazing act of selflessness from our son-in-law, Robert and his wife, our daughter, Aimee.

Robert’s mom died in bed on Friday and was found late in the day by Robert’s dad. She has suffered for many years with ill health and while she is finally free from that it is so hard to think of life here without her. Kathy’s passing leaves an empty place in our hearts. She and Ethne (Robert and Aimee’s 3-year- old) were especially close. Last night, while washing her hands, Ethne looked up at me and asked, “Grammy are you going to die soon?”

Do you give the theological answer about God’s Sovereignty and the truth that life ends whenever He says, “Come?” or do you give the answer that will comfort a little heart that is already broken from losing someone who loved her so fiercely?

“No,” I said. “Remember how Gran was sick? Remember how she had to go to the hospital a lot? Remember how she went to see the doctors because she was sick?”

Ethne nodded.

“Gran was sick. I am strong (I didn’t feel strong). I am healthy. I am not going to die.”

“But when you are very, very old, will you die?”

“Yes, I will because every one will die. But do you know what? When I am very, very, very, very old, you will be too. You will probably be a Grammy by then.”

Her eyes grew wide and her smile too and she laughed to think of herself as an old woman. “Well,” she said, “when I am grown up I will go and stay with Pops (Robert’s dad) for two weeks. I will stay with him and he won’t be so lonely. He will be so happy that I am staying with him on the top bunk!”

I scooped her up, and held her and let her love flow into me so that I really could be strong. Then I tucked her back into bed with a kiss that lingered and a prayer of thanks that I could know and love such a precious little child.

As I was saying, the news of Kathy’s death reached our kids late Friday night. Their weekend was already planned out. No one plans, but God’s, included Kathy dying on Friday. On Saturday, Robert and Aimee were photographing the wedding of the daughter of one of our pastors. Then, on Sunday, flying to Austin to shoot a wedding there.

In the face of the devastating news they just received Robert and Aimee made the decision to go ahead an fulfill their obligations to these two couples and not to mention the fact that Robert’s mom had just died. Their grief was held at bay and not allowed to cast its shadow over the joy other’s were experiencing. They cared more about the capturing the wonder of two lives joining as one than about their own pain. Isn’t that like Jesus? If they were your kids, wouldn’t you be proud too?

(To see a picture of Ethne with her Gran and to read Robert's thoughts, click on the 'son-in-law' tab on the left of this screen and click on his flicker tab.)