When Death Comes Knocking


We lost two members of our work family this week. 

I did not have the pleasure of knowing Eddie Sr. He retired many years ago after a long, and from what I hear, colorful career. Eddie was 82 years old. He was a husband, father, grandfather and I’m certain much more to those who knew him. He had been sick for a while, in and out of the hospital. Like I did not know Eddie Sr but Eddie Jr is one of my best friends, the person I confide in more than any other (except my wife, of course). Eddie Jr knew his father was not long for this world. They had time to say their goodbyes, though such goodbyes are never easy.

I did know Pete. Pete and I worked together for several years. He was only in his 30’s, single and living the life single guys live. He was one of the hardest working people I have known. One of those guys who would tackle any assignment with speed and efficiency. Pete was always friendly and always ready to jump in and help anyone who needed it. He worked a lot of overtime to save up for the truck that would take him to his favorite bow hunting locations. I talked to Pete in my office just before he left work on Monday. He never came back.

We will all experience Death in some form during our lives. It is inevitable. As is the fact that we will all meet him personally one day. He might come to visit as an old friend and sit patiently with a cup of tea while his host prepares for the trip ahead. He is in no hurry and is content to drink his tea and wait. Or, he might come as a mugger in the night, sneaking up on his target with stealth and swiftness. Unobserved, unexpected. In whatever form he comes, he is coming.

This is why life is so important, why living is so crucial. We all have hopes and dreams but the clock is ticking and time is running out. Quite possibly faster than we know. Many of the self-help gurus say that we should write our obituary out twice; once as it would probably look if we were to die today and again as we would want it to be if we had lived the lives of our dreams. What will people say at our funerals? Will the church be too small to hold them all or will no one bother to show up? I have to admit, that second possibility often haunts me. Whether or not they show up the simple truth is, they will all move on. We become someone who used to be but is no longer. 

Death is not the monster we often make him out to be. He is simple reality. Everything dies. Beloved pets, plants, trees, insects, planets, suns. According to many scientists even the universe will some day pass on. And yes, we humans must go as well. What comes after is a mystery but I believe that something does come after. For all my great and often warped imagination I cannot imagine nothing. There must be something. I call it The Last Great Adventure. As a Christian I believe in Heaven but I’ve never been big on the whole streets of gold and non-stop worship thing. Perhaps it is blasphemous to say but that sounds incredibly boring. Death is the Great Mystery, the Great Question, and one day every one of us will have the Great Answer. Until then, this life is what we have and this life will be whatever we make of it.

Let’s make it something worth remembering.

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