About a year and a half ago a couple I knew well at the church where I work died; it was not natural causes, rather the sense of loss of control on the part of one who decided to end life for both. Only a little over a year into my work as Parish Visitor there, this was a very hard thing to come to terms with – no goodbyes, no anticipation of death, no understanding of why such a thing had to happen. Out of the experience I have become friends with one of the adult children, and well acquainted with the others – that has been the blessing.
Last week I saw two of the children, along with a grandson; they were working at the house, readying it to go on the market next month. There was a strong sense of working together, of having accomplished much, and of the end being in sight. I had stopped only after I had driven by and realized they were at the house – and I am so glad that I did. The next day the grandson (late 20s perhaps) died in a tragic accident, overcome by carbon monoxide fumes as he worked in the garage at the home, scene of the tragedy of his grandparents. One wonders how cruel life can sometimes be. This young man died the next day. As I visited with them on Thursday, his father said “My son, my son – I was supposed to protect you…” I have heard these words in my head for several days now. And what I hear is God’s voice as Jesus hung on the cross on what we know as Good Friday. I imagine God wondered as Jesus suffered, if he shouldn’t have protected his son, prepared some other path for him. But as soon as that thought came to mind I was reminded that Good Friday is not the end of the story. The end of the story comes on Easter morning when death is no longer the winner, when death knuckles under to the love of God, to a love that knows no bounds, to a love that calls us home to God to live in peace and in comfort forever.
Good Friday may be more challenging for me this year on account of my experience with this distraught family. But Easter will be all the more joyous as trumpets herald “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” – and as in my heart I will know that this young man is risen as well.