Parting is such sweet sorrow.
My most recent experience of the death of a loved one was about a year and a half ago when my dad “graduated”. Sixteen and a half years ago, my Wonder Woman “died” (well, that’s what the doctors called three separate occurrences within a day of “sudden cardiac death”). . . for a bit, but that only counts as a wee sample of separations to come. I thought long and hard then, as I did later with my dad’s passing, of just what death of someone I love means to me.
Personal loss, of course. Since all my loved ones are Christians they, naturally, gain/will gain. 1 Corinthians 15 explains pretty clearly:
19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
and. . .
51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
Now, my Aunt Bettie is nearing her own “graduation”. Of course I am impelled to think of the loss, not only to me but to everyone she has touched, of her loving kindness, her wit and her own special wisdom. I cannot count the generosity she has poured out on just me from the days of my childhood, not the least the way she generously hosted the rehearsal dinner for our wedding at her own home (*heh* Blew my inlaws-to-be away. Righteous, dudette! :-)) or the times she served as a surrogate mom for me in the days before expensive Long Distance calls and slow snail mail bit the dust and my own mom was just not quite reachable–she was THE first person in my family to learn of my engagement to my Wonder Woman, for example. I needed that immediate, face-to-face family touch more than I really knew, and she was as thrilled for me as my own mom was later.
Now, Aunt Bettie, I hold the hope for you that I believe you hold for yourself:
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea.
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home!
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For though from out our bourn of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.
Happy trails! Vaya con Dios. Until we meet again, Aunt Bettie.
Mom and Aunt Bettie, holding hands at the hospice.