Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Goodnight Ify, we'll see you later!

I arrived in Key West this evening as planned, but today has been somewhat of a difficult day for me. You see, I just found out that the wife of a very dear friend of mine died of cancer yesterday. I was in London, England at the end of March this year and spoke at his church. I remember encouraging him as we spoke about his wife's illness, telling him how fervently we are praying for his wife's healing. The death of a spouse has to rank highly on the list of the hardest things a man might have to deal with. To have to bury your wife at a young age (I'm not even certain if she had turned 40 yet, and if she had she certainly wasn't much past that).

I grieve deeply with her family for their irreplaceable loss. She has left behind a couple of young kids who will have to come to terms with the fact that their mom will never see them grow up and get married. She won't be at any more recitals, sporting events, family vacations and all the great things families do together that create memories and history. Ify, you will be sorely missed! I'm not even sure what to say to my friend Agu, to help console him in this terrible season of pain and loss. What words adequately convey one's true feelings without sounding trite and empty? I imagine that the only way to get through this sort of devastating loss is to take it one day at a time. The loss is immeasurable. But that is only true for those of us left to mourn Ify's homegoing. For her, it is no loss at all. Like Paul stated in his inimitable style, "To live is Christ and to die is gain."

Ify is in a much better place than we are right now. Her labor is over. Her work is done. No more bills, no more laundry, no more exercise, no more traffic... all of the things that seem to loom so large while we walk on this earth, suddenly pale to insignificance when viewed through the lens of eternity. A good friend of mine used to say that our lives are simply micro-narratives in God's greater story, which is the meta-narrative. Like Shakespeare said in one of his many inspired writings, "Life is a stage...with its entrances and exits." Ify your part in the grand meta-narrative of God's story no doubt sweetened the plot for all of us. As you bow graciously and take your exit, we bid you goodnight with heavy hearts, consoled only by the knowledge that we will see you again soon. We love you, and thanks for the memories.