Letters of Life

Day 36–A Friend’s Passing

Holy Thursday, 1 April 2010–A familiar face, from decades past, lay enclosed in a box, a sudden compactness that I was not ready for. My eyes rested a full 2 seconds on his face–it was a face of rest—–and then focussed on the texture of the wood surrounding him.

Already, we could see he was in a world not ours, we see his sleeping face through a glass pane, at peace, it seems, with the world. A face once smiling, telling a joke, quoting scripture, loping down the corridor of a seedy Moscow hotel like an orang utan, just for laughs. That was H. He was only 46.

H had been one of the early church members. We were part of the 8 who ventured into Russia on one of the earliest NLCC mission trips. He proposed to his wife in Red Square, for goodness’ sake. A full life, worlds to discover and explore. All gone now.

I was merely an old acquaintance. But when someone dies suddenly, and relatively young, at a time when life still holds lots of promise, and the race is not yet finished, it makes one stop and think. Don’t let it happen to me; I would not know what to do. Beyond that, our questions won’t be answered this side of eternity.

What could we do if we had the answers anyway? Would they help make sense of the tragedy? The loss? The ache inside, the grief, all have to be dealt with. The ruthless movement of the hours, the days; life goes on. Even in that, there is solace, for we know we shall indeed meet again.

In the end, nothing really matters. I mean our problems, issues we have with one another, with the world. . . in the end, we live day by day only by God’s goodness and infinite grace on us. Nothing really matters, but the times shared with people, the ones who, if only for a while, mattered to us, even if we didn’t think so at the time. Nothing really matters, except the memories. And those are forever.


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