We got the news just after breakfast.  He passed away in the early hours of the morning.  He’d been ill for a long time and was growing gradually weaker as the months wore on.  Diabetes, kidney problems, bad heart, poor circulation, high blood pressure…it was a cluster of medical issues in one man’s body.  There is a limit to how much suffering one human can absorb.  At 75 years of age, his limit was up.

It triggered a gamut of emotions in my wife and I.  Besides the feeling of sadness for my sister in law, and feelings of sadness for nieces and nephews, and for their young children, there was something else going on.  Death came to visit and made a very visceral palpable impression on us.

As we thought about it we realized that there was the awareness of our own mortality in all this.  Years ago we watched our grandparents die.  But they were old.  Over the last decade we had buried 3 of our 4 parents.  We’d seen aunts and uncles pass away.  But there was an “orderliness” to all this.  This was the normal progression of life and death as that older generation moved along.  But now death claimed the first of our own generation.  Though he was older, he was still a sibling.  This leveled the playing field to the point where we now need to look at each other and realize that soon it will be our turn.

I don’t think it sparked fear, but it was sobering.  I thought a bit about heaven tonight.  I don’t worry about eternity.  I agree with Bishop Desmond Tutu who voiced that “God’s standards of acceptance are much lower than ours”.  I have confidence that my brother in law is in much better shape and health than he’s ever been.  And I don’t worry for my sister in law nor their extended family.  She’s an amazing lady.   But I wonder about this transition from living on earth to living in eternity.

 

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