Nathan had been talking about it for weeks. Counting down. He was even going to stay home from school on Friday so that he wouldn’t miss the opening night. So on Sunday afternoon I left Pete at home to do his latest essay in peace and I took the kids to the movies.
I admit that I take my kids to Disney movies. I didn’t even know what this one was about. I had no clue. It was really good. But Disney did it again. It had the orphan character. Not only does the main character have no parents, his older brother dies within the first 15 (or so) minutes. I started tallying all the kids movies that have some element of death in it. There are a lot of them. I can think of at least a few of them right off the top of my head. You probably can too. This came on top of my realization a few weeks ago that the play that one of my kids is in has a couple of the characters in it that have had to bury their adult daughter. Death. Again.
I shouldn’t be so surprised that death is such a hot subject in entertainment. It is all around us. It is part of life. It is natural. I just don’t like it. In fact, I hate it.
Everyone will experience the death of someone close to them at one in their life. I lost one grandfather when I was 11 years old and the other when I was a teenager. I have stood at the graveside of a number of relatives. Most of them had lived full lives. They have had children and grandchildren, some even great grandchildren. They have lived a good number of years and then they have died. Somehow it is easier to accept that kind of death. The ones where we think they have accomplished what they were supposed to in this life. It makes sense.
The death of a child never makes sense. I wish I still had my grandmother here. She died when Karissa was under 2 weeks old. She was a woman who raised 13 children. She had 29 grandchildren. Karissa was her newest great-grandchild and she was the 53rd. She left an amazing legacy. She also had to deal with the pain of burying 3 of her children. The first was a son who died in his very early teens. Then two daughters, one in her 30s and a second in her 50s. I never really understood the loss she had faced. Not only did she bury her son but she and my grandfather moved their remaining family from Saskatchewan to Ontario less than a year later. I can’t imagine that. While I don’t visit Arlynne’s grave often, I like to know that it is close enough, she is close enough, that I can. It helps ease the pain a little bit. Moving that far away from her would be almost unthinkable. To make matters worse, my mother tells the story of travelling out west many years later with her parents when they finally put a marker on Edwin’s grave. It is hard to imagine. I would love to be able to talk to her, a woman who knows my pain, who is my flesh and blood, who can empathize in a way that few can. She had so much more to deal with than I do. It is no wonder that my mom would say she had bad days. I cannot blame her.
The summer that Arlynne was away I was doing a summer Bible study with a group of women. It was on Revelation and was being lead by a good friend of mine who is also an eschatologist (a student of the theology of end times). We were actually going to be talking about Heaven during the first week of August. In preparation I re-read the book “Heaven Is For Real” by Kevin Burpo. I had read it before. It was a great picture of Heaven. I like the fact that all the scenes that are described are backed up by Scripture. Some people don’t believe it. It doesn’t matter. It brought a lot of peace to my heart after we learned that Arlynne had died. It helped to think that she was with Jesus even before we knew she was gone. 2 Corinthians 5:8 says that when we are “away from the body [we are] at home with the Lord”. I can rest in that knowing that we still have the “shell” of Arlynne’s body but her soul is already with her Saviour. This verse gives me peace.
I cannot imagine the pain that someone, especially a parent, goes through after their child dies and they don’t believe in Heaven. I think it would kill me. It would make my pain so futile. So final. So hopeless. I can’t imagine going on thinking that I will never see my daughter again. I can’t do it. I’m not strong enough. I need my faith in my Father God and the Heaven that He has created to keep going. Life without the belief in a better place later is dismal.
I really am a Bible study addict. There is nothing like following a learned woman of God leading me through the Word. I love it. So in the winter of 2012, less than a year after Arlynne died, I was in Bible study again. In Revelation again. This time with Beth Moore. I think I can study Revelation from now until I get to Heaven and I would still have more to learn. When it comes to end-times theology, it is confusing and scary and subjective. There are a number of schools of thought. The pre-millenium rapture. The post-millennium rapture. The mid-millennium rapture. I am not scholarly enough to speculate. I trust my Saviour. He has this. I don’t.
What I do understand is simple. It was one of the most memorable moments in Beth’s Revelation study. Everything is gone. The devil, the beast, the false prophet have been thrown in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). There is no evil left except death. Death is the final enemy. Jesus has this. He has the power to destroy death once and for all. He already did when He died and then came alive again. This time He will take death and annihilate it. Death has power now. It can cause us unbelievable, inexplicable pain but in the end Jesus WILL WIN. It is certain. It has all been decided. It just hasn’t happened yet.
I wait for that day. I long for that day. The day when it is over. Jesus wins. Death is gone. I get to hug my daughter again. I can worship at my Saviour’s feet. It won’t get any better than that. I remember hearing Beth teaching this. I sobbed. I sobbed so hard that the chair I sat on shook. What a triumph! I cannot wait.
But I must.
Maybe you are strong enough to go on without a belief that one day all the wrongs will be made right. Maybe you can live thinking that you will die and return to dust. That you will never see your loved ones again. I can’t. I am too weak. I need a Saviour that will make it all right. He has never failed me before. I don’t believe He will now.