Death isn’t new. It’s been around a long time.
Funny, though, isn’t it, how when death touches near us it takes on a fresh, new face. We don’t realize how much we hang onto things, things which may or may not be important to us, until the moment death knocks on our door.
I went to a funeral on Tuesday for a man I didn’t know. I was there as a support for one of his sons, who is a man I do know. And I know he’s unusually himself today, as if nothing happened of any import. And his wife told us he’d not had a chance to really do much, because he and his three brothers were busy arranging, planning, moving, calling…doing all the things which have to be done but shouldn’t have to be done by the bereaved.
Fifty-four years. That’s how long he and his wife were married. Fifty-four years of a seventy-six plus year lifespan. While recent years have ravaged his health, and left him a shadow of the man he was before, his passing comes like a thief in the night. He doesn’t know it’s coming, even though he can see it. The shadow, the specter of death, hovering nearby. The preacher said he’d let go of a lot of life already, making ready to meet his final destiny. It’s a little harder for those left behind.
Funerals aren’t for the dead. They’re for the living, reminders to celebrate a life gone forever, slipped into the shifting sands of time, to recall memories of happier days. We mourn because we will suffer the loss of the one gone, because they’re passing saddens us, in some way darkens our own days. The death of a loved one causes us to suddenly look upon them with new eyes, in a new way, with a fondness we may not have recalled or, in honesty, ever held. Death does that.
Death’s not new, but when it touches near us, it becomes new and fresh for us. And how sad that we only see things through the new, fresh eyes loss gives us after the fact. Hindsight, as they say, is indeed 20/20. We never see things so clearly as we do when we look over our shoulder.
Take time today to celebrate, in some small way, the loved ones around you. We are, after all, only a flicker, only a match in the whirlwind of time. We strike, burn hot and fast, then are snuffed out and become swallowed by eternity.
And, have a great day today.