Life is fleeting.
It seems at every turn in the past few weeks, someone I know is in the last stages of life. Or, more accurately, I should say the parent of someone I know is in the last stages of life.
Now, we Baby Boomers all know that we’ve reached the age where, if we still have our parents, they are officially “elderly.” We all saw it coming. We can all do the math.
But it seems, at least in the world around me, that it’s happening all at once. Saturday, we lost my Aunt Shirley – Mom’s sister. Two months ago, we buried my Aunt Ruth – Dad’s sister. And so many of my friends are burying their parents, settling their estates, dealing with grief. Or they’re comparing notes as to the late-in-life afflictions their parents are dealing with, and thus, they deal with. I’m among the very few my age who still have both parents.
Facebook, for all its foibles, has also become a far reaching, informal obituary. A lifeline for friends to support friends who sadly watch those who were once our strength, become those whose strength has failed them.
Life is fleeting.
Okay now, I am well aware, that in this world, there is nothing – nothing – more heart-wrenching, than losing a child. But there is nothing more certain than losing a parent. My day will come, and if it hasn’t yet, yours will too. With the loss of the young, we grieve so deeply over what might have been, what they missed, what we missed by their absence. We call those deaths “untimely.” But with the elderly, often it’s, “She lived a full life.” “It was just his time.” And more often it seems, “She was suffering so… I’m glad she no longer hurts….”
But all death – all death is “untimely.” It’s easy to think that once you’ve reached a certain age (somewhere past 70, or 75, I’m guessing) that you’ve lived a “full life.” Some even throw in the towel when they reach those milestones. Some let old age win, while some fight it off, and some are even able to laugh it off…. And of course, some no longer have the capacity to fight at all.
But whether it happens at age 80, or age 18, life is fleeting, and death is untimely.
Why? Because we were never meant to die at all.
The grief of this world bears witness to the imperfection of this world – and the imperfection of each of us. A perfect body would never falter, a perfect mind would never wander off. Something is very wrong, and eventually, only death can make it right. How can death possibly be right? Because death isn’t the end. It’s the beginning.
Any math student can tell you that 70 – 80 – 90 – 100… are all small numbers compared to infinity. In fact they are tiny – yes, infinitesimal. They don’t even show up as a blip – compared to infinity. So while our imperfect bodies generally last no more than 100 years… we simply trade in these old heaps for something infinite – or “eternal.”
Recently my now 80 year old dad (as of last week) who is now wheelchair dependent… expressed that he “just wants to go home.” Exactly.
Where is home? What’s the end result? That depends. It depends on whether or not you know the One who was indeed perfect, but died anyway, so we’d have the path to eternity marked out for us. For these imperfect bodies of ours will indeed expire… and it will be “untimely.”
In one of her final conversations, in a rare lucid moment, Aunt Shirley broke from the fog of Alzheimer’s to say to her grandson, “Well, I’d better tell you goodbye. I won’t be seeing you anymore. I going – to be with Jesus.”
Life – in this world – is fleeting. Life – in the next world – is forever. Life – in the next world, with Jesus – is forever right and good. Ready?