Another death, another friend. This one older, but her death unexpected. Her family is in shock. The doctor told them she had only two to four months to live, and they could see her struggle to breathe, even with oxygen. The next day, as they were processing "two to four months to live," she died.
Her husband of 60 years has come undone. Within two days, he gave away his queen-size bed and bought a single. When I heard this, I recalled his wife's story to a small group at a women's retreat for our church. She said that a few weeks before that, she and her husband had lain in bed together and read "Song of Solomon" to each other, bit by bit, night after night. There was a hint of a giggle as she admitted it. As young women, we received an entirely new concept of mature love--the example of these grandparents who loved deeply and were still deeply in love, who included God's word in showing love to each other. What a blessed memory for me!
But of course he can't stand that bed now. Too many beautiful memories turned painful.
He wants no funeral, no flowers, no food. He wants no celebration. He cannot face celebrating a life well-lived in the reality of his loss. He has grudgingly agreed to a brief service at the cemetery chapel, his son speaking. There is no obituary in the newspaper. I think he really doesn't want anyone but family there.
We have been with their extended family through baptisms, weddings, births, unwed pregnancies, divorce, and now death. We have seen their children grow in faith and love, their children and grandchildren become missionaries. We consider ourselves family. We will be there to grieve with them, while privately we will rejoice that our friend is now breathing freely in God's own air.