Tuesday, October 28, 2008

In the Face of Death

Just came back from W’s funeral this evening.

We were so happy for him, and the others in the Sunday School class, when they got baptized in September. In my mind, he has always been tall and thin, ever since I met him at church earlier this year. We all knew that he had cancer, had a liver transplant, and was undergoing various treatments. But he had been walking and talking and working, so calm and clear-headed and hopeful, that death seemed far away. Until one day in early October when he came to church in wheelchairs. Then his condition deteriorated rapidly and passed away about 10 days ago.

I had suspected that he lost weight because of the illness. But only when I saw those pictures of him before he got sick, at the funeral this evening, that I realized how big he was. Such a big man, who weighed more than 200 pounds, could be reduced to skin and bones by liver cancer. And a spirited man, walking and eating, and standing tall at his baptism one month, can be dead in the next month.

It wasn’t a really sad funeral, however. His wife, his two daughters, his younger brother, and many of his friends there are Christians. We are hopeful that we will meet again.

Staring death in the face forces us to consider what, ultimately, is important in life. Certainly not the size of our apartment or bank account, not how well known or highly placed we are in society, not how pretty we are or how hard our bodies are, not how widely we have travelled or how highly educated we are. But loved ones, whether we will get to see them again, knowing where we are going. Now that is important. At least for me.

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