How do you honor someone when they’re gone? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Yesterday afternoon, my wife and I received word that my aunt Ruth had died. I think the time reported was 4:07. The news wasn’t a surprise. She had been in the stages of dementia and had been going downhill fast. My mother had told me earlier she probably only had hours left.
I posted it on Facebook and before too long many people showed up giving their condolences. My former roommate messaged me. He had actually met Ruth before and he was glad that he had. She was a special lady.
When I was growing up, I lived next door to my grandmother and her sister, my aunt Ruth. I would regularly spend time with them. It was there I learned about playing card games and word games like Scrabble. Even today, playing Words With Friends can make me think about those times.
Ruth also lived much of her life as a librarian. I could walk down to our local library and sometimes see her behind the desk. Being who I was growing up, I had a tendency to do all that I could to tease my loved ones as much as I could.
When my wife and I married, we shortly moved to Tennessee and lived in my grandmother’s old house. I remember well a time where Allie and I went over to see Ruth and Allie talked about how sarcastic everyone in our family was, except my Mom. Ruth told her that yes, that’s how we all are. We’re all sarcastic, but we don’t mean it. I immediately said, “We don’t?!” Heck. News to me.
There was a time Ruth gave me some eggs to carry over to our house. She was worried I would drop them on the way and I insisted that I wouldn’t. Well, shortly after I left, I came back over. “Um. Ruth. You know those eggs you said I would drop and I insisted that I wouldn’t?”
“I just wanted to let you know that they got over just fine.”
There was also the constant fun I had with the front door and the back door of her house. From the way I entered, what she called the back door was from my perspective the front door, and naturally vice-versa. Everytime, I would intentionally get the name of the door wrong knowing that it would irritate her a little bit more.
Sometimes, Ruth would want me to go to the library and get her a book. She didn’t have a specific, but she figured the librarian would know something. I went once and told her that I had told the librarian she requested a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. I also added that her pastor was surprised when he heard me say that’s what she wanted.
As Ruth progressed downhill though, we could not joke like we used to. The last time I had seen her, she couldn’t remember at one point who I was. I know it wasn’t intentional, but it was hard to see. She was also convinced that her one cat was actually four different cats. I don’t know what will happen to Whitefoot, but I hope he will find a good home somehow.
Death is something difficult when it comes to all of us. For the time being, all of us are deprived. We lose the experience of what it is to be with that person, and the more that person has a place in our life, the bigger the pain that will be experienced.
Most people went through their day just fine yesterday for the most part. If you read my news, you could have been sad for me, but you went through the day for the most part fine. That’s okay. I honestly tend to be detached so I went on and did a Google hangout I had been scheduled to do last night to discuss issues relating to atheism and theism.
For some people, the world is never the same. All deaths in some way diminish the world. There is a certain absence. This is even more so if the death comes about through a violent means, be it the actions of another or especially suicide. All life is precious. All of us who are pro-life realize that. I do think sometimes killing can be a sad necessity, such as in self-defense, but it is sad that it ever happened to get to that point. A marriage can end in divorce because a spouse is abusive. I think it can be necessary then, but it is always a tragedy that it got to that point.
Yet at these times, the resurrection is good news. It means we will see our loved ones again someday. Not in some ethereal way, but in a real way. It is tempted to say just like we see those alive today, but that would be false. When we see our loved ones again, they will be more real than they ever were before. They will be more themselves than they ever were before. All of us in this mode of existing are in some way inhuman. When we see each other in the end, we will see everyone as they really are, as fully human. As Lewis says, there will be surprises.
One day, I will see my aunt again. I will see her as she is and she will see me as I am. I look forward to walking through the front door of her new home someday.
Or was that the back door?