We've all heard the saying, "You can't win them all," and everyone is, on some level, conscious that their body has an expiration date just as much as anyone else's. Still, when the life of a dear one is lost, our lives and being come to a shattering halt.
How do we cope?
When I was one day away from turning nine, my grandmother had a stroke that would keep her debilitated for eleven years before finally letting her die. She went through cancer twice and chemo and several excruciating infections before the sweet release.
I was so calm. I wasn't upset.
I wasn't upset until I met a professor at ORU.
She was a substitute for my GEN 150 professor who was new to campus and wasn't fully immersed in the system.
She had gone to a Pilates class a friend had invited her to.
She told us that at the end of the session, she found out that the instructor was a stroke victim. She never would have known if not told.
I thought maybe it was a more minor stroke than my grandmother's.
"The left side of her brain was shut down completely," she told us, "and had no mobility on the right side of her body. But she was determined that her life was not over. And after a lot of rehabs, she fully recovered." There it was. This woman had experienced the exact illness in the exact capacity my grandmother had, but three years after, she was up and about her old habits, full of health and vibrancy just as before.
At that moment, I felt angry. Why didn't my grandmother try to get better? Why couldn't she work, even try at all, to stay with me? To be here for my graduation, wedding, meet my kids. She could have been here for all of that. But she gave up. On life, on our family, on me.
I was talking to Michael about that about a month after it happened.
"No," he said. "Don't be angry with her. You're bottling emotions right now whether you know it or not. You need to let yourself feel. You need to be vulnerable."
Holy Spirit prompted me, so I asked, "Before we hang up, will you pray for me?"
He did. And after about a minute of praying, he prayed, ". . .forgive. . ."
I don't remember what he prayed before or after, but the passion in his words, and that one word—it broke something walled up in my soul.
I cried. For the first time, in my first experience of loss, I cried.
She'd had enough. She was tired. She needed rest.
I don't have all the answers, but she has peace. Knowing that her fate was not up to her, that her life was in the hands of Him whose name is Life---knowing that, I'm okay with what I don't know.
I can let go because He is holding her. He's holding me.
That song a lot of us sang in Sunday school a lot of parents hear on repeat as it plays for their little ones is true. "He's got the whole world in his hands."
If the whole world is in His hands, both this one and the life to come, there's nothing to worry about, nothing to get angry over. He is sovereign.
He is loving.
He is righteous.
He is just.
When it's hardest for our minds to accept it because the whole world seems pointless and dark, He is still good. He doesn't change, and He won't change His mind about the eternal life we have through Jesus.
He is good in the way He gives us the time we have, the moments we share. There's a bottomless abundance of mercy and love in Yahweh.
Because this life is just a shadow, a mist, a whisper speaking hope of the joy that's right in front of us. This is not the end.
He is faithful to fulfill every promise, and His words don't fall to the ground.
"Be still and know that I am God," He says.
Knowing Him makes up for everything I don't know. He is enough.