Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Death, Resurrection & Prevention of Death

Last night I was talking with one of my ringer's moms about her trip to India. I didn't realize this, but 4 days after she got back, her father died.
It was a great story, it seems as though he was on a lot of machines and so they could hear everything going on with his body. All her siblings sat with her dying father and their mother and sang hymns. After they sang "Abide With Me," his heart stopped beating. He died with these words:

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word;
But as Thou dwell’st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.

Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings,
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea—
Come, Friend of sinners, and thus bide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile;
And, though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee,
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

This reminds me of the story of when my grandmother died, 3 years 11 months ago. I had, for some reason, brought in a hymnal and left it in her hospice room. My mom and all her siblings ended up spending the night singing through as many of the hymns as they could. It was a few weeks after Easter, but they sang the Christmas songs just as fervently as the Easter songs. Early the next morning, with their repertoire exhausted, my grandmother, exhausted from battling cancer, died.

They both went out singing. This is the fate I hope for myself, I'd rather go out singing, than swinging. As I spoke with my world-traveling friend, she mentioned that a common friend of ours also had a dying parent. The next day I found out that my friend's dad had died, but my friend said his goodbyes on Easter. Easter is a great day to say good bye, because we are reminded of the life to come on that day. And every year at Easter, they will remember both the death of their loved one and that they will meet up again.

My grandmother died a few weeks after Easter, but what I remember is reading the Easter story of John to her. A few weeks before she died, I was on break and my mom suggested that I bring her communion, so I did. I read to her the upcoming Gospel message, which happened to be the story about the women going to the tomb and bringing back the disciples: Peter and the one whom Jesus loved. Every Easter, I am reminded of my exchange with her. Every Easter, I hear this story and remember her questions, her responses, her teaching me.

Death seems to be so scary to us. The only thing scarier is suffering in death, or in life. To help prevent that suffering, I have been getting more and more active (I love that summer's coming). Becky, my mom & dad, my brother & his girlfriend, my aunt, cousin, a co-worker and hopefully many more are training to ride in the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure. I am going to raise more than $1000 to help prevent, cure and treat diabetes. If you want to ride or donate, please join us here: http://main.diabetes.org/goto/smj We can use all the help we can get!

I hope that you are all in good health. God's blessings to you all. Happy Easter!