One thing we talked about, though, was the "How?"
Yesterday as Emily and Ryan and I left a store, there were several emergency vehicles in the next parking row, helping whomever it was who needed help. There were employees of the store directing traffic in the opposite direction of the situation. We headed to our car, and as we walked, we prayed for the person laying on the ground. We also prayed for the rescue team as they cared for the person in need.
As we backed out of our spot and headed up the row I literally had to wait for a woman steering her cart serpentine like down the center of the driving lane, craning her neck, not watching where she was going, but trying to see what was going on in the other parking row.
I know the woman was curious as to the "What?" in the situation, like what happened? or how did this happen? We are curious people. And we are not bad or wrong for wanting to know.
Heck, when Noah was in the hospital, I asked the question, "But WHY?" for 5+ months. Not "Why?" like, why me? why my son? but, "Ok, so his test results are inconclusive...he is dying...his DNA is normal...but again, he's dying...why?"
Remember "Speed" and the vanilla flavored acting of Keanu Reeves? The people were all on the bus yelling, "We're all gonna die! We're all gonna die!"
I think of this scene, and many like it being played out in real life around the world under different circumstances, and I do wonder if this is the first realization a person in the scenario has had that they, indeed, are going to die.
Everyone. Is. Going. To. Die.
But it's the "How?" that often catches us off guard, sweeps our legs, and leaves us feeling as if it came out of nowhere. Because we weren't ready for it?
And it's the "When?", too. My friend said she asked God about the timing of her children's deaths. One in his 20's, the other two teenagers. My son was 7 months old. My friend's dad was 61. My friend's daughter 1 hour. My friend's mom in her early 40's. My Grandmas in their 90's. My father-in-law, 49. My friend's husband, 34.
When we read "90" in the obituaries, we don't really ask why? We may ask how? but, for the most part, their death isn't the result of a skiing accident, though anything is possible.
The nature of us, though, wants to know the how? and why? when we read the other ages.
And we are taken aback. Struck with disbelief in some cases. Sorting feelings of unfairness and pounding our fists about timing. "A life cut short." "Such a tragedy!" "They had so much more life to live..."
If God really is Who He says He is, and He really does know the number of our days here on Earth, and He designed us with beauty in mind, and a purpose, and for a display of His splendor...well, this causes me to believe He isn't taken aback by the how? or the when?
Please understand, I am NOT saying He is the instigator of the how? Please read Job for further insight here. I personally believe God left the book of Job in the Bible on purpose so we could see just how sick and twisted the Devil really is at trying to tear our hearts away from the Unconditionally Loving God who created us. (This will have to be another post entirely.)
What the heck is my point here?
Well, we can live the rest of our lives broken, torn, our hearts tragically ripped open because of our inability to fully ever comprehend the how? and the why? and the when?
Or, we can live the rest of our lives profoundly impacted by the beautiful people we once knew who have gone before us into everlasting life.
And we can carry their hearts, passions, gifts, character, and strengths in our lives as we choose to be better people because of them.
We can celebrate their heroics. We can allow smiles to grace our faces, even in the midst of sorrow, as we remember something funny they once did, and not feel guilty about it. We can rejoice that no matter the amount of time, whether in pregnancy or 50+ years later, we were once a "Mom" and will ALWAYS be a mom, no matter where our children dwell. It will wear the title, "Bereaved, Grieved, Widowed," and it will have aches, pains, and heart wrenching yearning.
But what if we had never met them in the first place?
As a bereaved parent, a grieved friend, a person who has kissed death on the lips, I don't want to imagine my life never having known the people I loved who have died.
My life is richer because of them.
And in pain and grief, there is healing knowing each person we meet on our way truly is a gift to us from the very hand of God, no matter how long they are called to walk the Earth.
*In memory of men I never knew: Luke Sheets, Stephen Luth, Garrett Coble, and Austin Anderson
*In honor of Hannah Luce AND all the surviving families, friends, and loved ones: we are constantly praying for you...He still has you here on purpose. Never give up hope!