We are too young to buy caskets. We are too young to buy urns or burial plots or headstones.
We will always be too young. It doesn’t matter how old we are. We are too much alive to consider death until it strikes us where we live. Though it has been the fate of mankind for century upon century, it is always, somehow, a surprise.
We comfort ourselves and our loss by saying that the deceased is somewhere better, somewhere beyond pain and grief. We wish that we could be there with them beyond such human experiences, but that’s not how this works. We are bound up with the passage of time. And time is the double-edged sword that takes our loved ones then heals the wound.
Or maybe not heals, because scar tissue is never the same, but it covers. And having had to buy a casket already, I can tell you that it does cover.
I graduated high school with Bev and Eric. Bev was the sweet, smart, smiling-girl who brightened any room she walked into. Eric was the loping, good-natured guy who was not nearly as good-looking or smart as Bev. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who wondered how he got to be with her. But when I look at my wife and myself, I know that other people are asking the same question.
But the question on people’s minds now is more likely to be, “How can this happen?” How is it possible or fair or just or okay for good people–parents, children, siblings, friends, co-workers–to die in the prime of life? How is it right for death to take even babies who haven’t even experienced life?
Contrary to many trite greeting cards or well-meaning Scripture-quoting strangers, it isn’t right or good or fair. There are no easy answers to questions like these. If there is comfort to be had in times of loss, it is that the separation is not permanent. The tricky part is in not separating ourselves from the living, from those who love us, in our grief.
I can’t imagine what it is like to lose a wife and the mom of my kids. I’m not going to try. What I am going to do is pray for Eric, pray for his two kids, for his and Bev’s extended family, and join in the grieving myself. Now isn’t the time to be chipper about God’s goodness. Now is the time to know that even God experienced death and loss. And because of that, we can have hope.
We are still too young for all of this, and none of it is right. All we can do is love while time does its job of moving on.