Bill and I met in the Army. I left the service to take care of our kids, and Bill served 20 years before he retired. Like all military couples, we had many conversations about death. Every time he deployed, we prepared for it, both pragmatically and emotionally. Death was a familiar adversary.
Bill was diagnosed last summer with Pulmonary Fibrosis. We knew the mortality rate was high. The estimated mean survival is 2-5 years. But we were professionals. We put our affairs in order, put on our battle armor, and prepared to meet our old adversary.
But instead of a slow march, Bill’s condition flings us up to the edge of death and then backs off again, like stormy tidal waves. We can’t seem to keep our armor on. We are swept off our feet and carried adrift by powerful forces of nature. We have no power over death.
Of course, we never did.
That is the blessing God has given us this year. We’ve lost our armor. We have no choice but to hang on to each other and to our faith that what comes next – no matter what results – it will be Good, with a capital G. And because we are not in control, we embrace each moment, and we are gifted with the ability to truly appreciate it. Oh, there are still moments when we feel sad, or afraid, or angry. But we don’t dwell there, because we know what comes next is Good.
We know it, not because we are children who have never experienced loss or pain, but because the pain is a part of the journey. A journey that – in a powerfully beautiful way – our Christ walked with us before we were born.