When I was young, I didn’t pay attention to death. I had no idea life is so delicate. I didn’t know death is not prejudiced. That it comes to old and young alike. Until death interrupted my life in 1994.
It is April 4th, a chilly and sunny Monday after Easter. My family is preparing to take my younger brother back to college and we can’t find mom anywhere in our three bedroom upstairs apartment. I run down to the basement. Nothing. I’m yelling for her, scared because she’s not answering.
I sprint back upstairs into the kitchen and notice the bathroom door is shut. I turn the knob but can’t open it. Bending down to look through the gap between the door and the floor, I can see mom’s body against the door. I panic and yell for my dad. He manages to get into the bathroom from a connecting bedroom door. She is lying against the door with what appears to be a cut on her temple. She doesn’t open her eyes, but I can see she is in pain as she cringes when we try to move her. I am trembling with fear!
The following four days felt like weeks as my dad, four siblings, and I waited in the ICU for mom to wake up. We couldn’t leave her side. We wanted to be there when she opens her eyes to look for us. She had suffered from a brain aneurysm and was in a coma. Her heart was healthy, but her brain was severely damaged. We were hopeful things would turn around. But it didn’t. She died on April 8th….and our world shattered to pieces. Mom held everything together in our family. What will we do without her? How can we be a family without mom?
Just like that, she was gone. It felt like a bad dream that I couldn’t wake up from. Several years passed before I could get through the grief. Sometimes, I still grieve. I imagine my life with her in it. I don’t know why God didn’t heal my mom; why she had to die at the tender age of 48. But her death taught me how to live.
I no longer take life for granted, mine or others. For no one other than God knows about tomorrow. So, I live as though this day is my last. I don’t strive to gain all I can for myself. Instead, I look for ways to love, serve, and give to others as God leads. For this way of living brings me great joy and fulfillment.
I do my best to live with no regrets, by forgiving often and letting go of resentment. Because I may not have a chance to make things right tomorrow.
My efforts are focused on strengthening my relationship with God and others. I know tomorrow is not guaranteed, so I’m continually working to improve and nurture the relationships God has given me.
I hold loosely to possessions. The truth is, I will die with little or much. But I still die. And I can’t take anything with me into death. So I remind myself to enjoy what God gives and pray for the willingness to release what I treasure, when God tells me to give it away.
I live ready to die. Exercise, rest, and a healthy diet are important to me. But I know one day, I will still die. Therefore, I take care of my mind and body, without neglecting my soul. Because the physical body that I can see, touch, and feel will pass away. But my soul, the part I can’t see, will live on forever. So I prepare for death by placing my faith in Jesus. Because He saves me from eternal death, I don’t have to be afraid of dying.
Friends, Jesus (who is God) died and came back to life and lives forever so you and I don’t have to be afraid of death. When we believe in him, we have the promise of living forever as he does, in a paradise call heaven. A place with no pain, sorrow, sadness, sickness, fear, suffering, or death. This is the hope and promise of the Easter story for you and me. If we choose to believe.