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To Those Who Lived


I didn't attend a single funeral last year. 

And yet I know more people that died last year than any other year. As far as I know, only one was classified "due to COVID".

I was saddened to not go to the first two funerals (I was in Germany). 

This post has been begging attention for quite some time. But this is a topic that is hard for me to face, though it feels ever imminent, always present. 


Shirley was one of my favorite clients. Normally I would just listen as she ranted over some horrendous happening. She had her favorite stories that she liked to repeat. 'Twas fine by me as I missed a lot of what she said, and thus always garnered a new detail. Some people would have thought she was grumpy. She probably was. But I loved her. I felt I brought her happiness. Which made me happy. 

On my last time cleaning, before leaving for Germany, she hugged me and said, "You're one of my best friends." 

I wanted to say the same. I wondered, but would it be a lie? But then I realized, no. "You're one of my best friends, too." She was one of the first people I said "I love you" out loud to. 

I cried as I left her house that day because I knew she probably wouldn't be alive when I returned. I pushed away from the thought and bought her a gift in Germany. A few weeks later I received news that she was in the hospitable again, and this time they didn't think she would return. 

She was always so kind to me. She loved having her china hutch cleaned. She liked to talk about her Mormon friends, who were the best, though they never talked of religion. I wondered how that could be; odd that now I have such friends myself. (Though we do discuss religion). 

Once she told this story of a cop pulling over a young man. "And he had a couple thousand dollars on him, so the police confiscated it of course. What sort of person has so much cash on them, and it's legal?" 

I tried to hide away my smile as I thought myself. But said, "Yeah!" 

It's probably why we got along. She didn't need someone to educate her on the ways of the world. She'd lived through all that. She needed someone to listen to her. And somehow, even as I had to often bite my tongue and smother my smiles, I also learned from her. Things I would have never learned had I argued. 

Once she told me a story of a young girl that loved a man. "He was a bad man," she said. "But the girl wouldn't compromise for him. Still she waited. And one day he changed. And would you believe it, they had the happiest marriage I ever saw."

They say a girl can't change a guy. But maybe a guy could change for a girl, I pondered. It would make a good story at least, I decided. 

I don't remember all that I learned. Maybe it can't be articulated. But in my soul, I feel that some part of me is better for having heard the words of Shirley, the woman who married a widow and loved his first son as much as the children she later bore for him.


David is the little boy on the far right wearing orange. 

I didn't babysit these kids all that often. But when I did, oh, how much joy they were! Especially David. I remember thinking how much of a gentleman he always was, looking out for his siblings, even his older brother, cracking a joke, creating conversation, offering the most thoughtful of compliments. Already he was giving more to the world than most young boys I knew. Someday he'd make a good father, and oh, the things he would share! I was excited to see what he would become. 

Last January he was hit by a semi and killed. 

I did not know him well. And yet I cried for his loss. Oh, yes, I'm sure he's in a better place. But this world needs more humans like him. The future is a little more sparse without such a boy. And how his family misses him! He truly was a light wherever he went.


Mike Adams was one of my favorite speakers when I went to Summit. If ever anyone was the embodiment of antifragility, it was he. Or so I thought. So I still like to think. 

Once upon a time, he spoke out against abortion, feminism, and Calvinism, always jesting, never compromising, yet full of grace and love for everyone. Even Calvinists. Especially Calvinists. He understood satire and humor to its fullest. He was my favorite contemporary, and the man who made me feel safe having ideas that just felt unsafe. People loved him, even his haters. 

He would speak at universities, mostly educating students on their first amendment rights as Christians, winning lawsuits, and helping to preserve liberty in education. Socialists hated him. One day he arrived at a school to be greeted by a chorus of "I hate Mike Adams!" 

Naturally, he joined the throng. 

"Hey, who is this cool old guy?"

"Um ... it's Mike Adams." 

Suddenly abashed, they all sat and listened. Or so legend has it. Thus was born the bumper stickers; proceeds going to stop abortion, partially supported by ignorant anti-Adams fans. 

During COVID, Adams was the one person that didn't disappoint me. He stood true to liberty, retaining his sense of humor. I knew with people like him America had a chance. I was fueled by him. If he could do this, remaining gracious and kind and human, then so could I. Never did he turn brutish. Always did he put God above man. 

At the end of July, he was killed by a gunshot wound to the head. It was ruled a suicide. I suppose it must have been. His family agrees. His fans and students are split. I don't know what to believe. 

He was giving the world so much. We all needed him. To think that he would have just . . . backed out, makes me angry. It also saddens me. Because he was alone. Most of his fellowmen, best friends, etc were not as passionate as he when it came to making a difference. It was as if he fought for people's rights, and when he won they thanked him by remaining in bondage. Through it all, he lost his position at his university. He was devastated, I know. Yet he was still winning. He had so much. 

But who am I, an outsider, a mere girl who was looking for an example? 

His death is partly why I felt disillusioned for the rest of the summer. It has a lot to do with why I just can't handle politics anymore. I see futility. What good does it do to love your neighbor if they won't be loved? I understand. 

And yet . . . the world needed Mike Adams. He was truly one of the last of his kind. 





These weren't the only deaths in 2020.

Some of my clients' spouses passed. An older fellow that I used to trade my homemade bread for his homemade chocolates moved away for his health . . . only to catch COVID. Many of my close friends lost loved ones for varying reasons, including my au pair family's grandmother. 

Death and grief have always been real. But this last year, it's felt different. So much of it was ridiculous.

These people were special, though. 

They were showing us, me, how to live life. 

I saw them and I could breathe. I laughed, I was lead to action. I saw something worth going after, something they held up reverently yet shared unconditionally. 

Through them, I knew who I was and where I was meant to go.

Through them, I saw God and all His glory. 

Now I ask, "How can I be all that I'm meant to be? If Mike Adams couldn't do it, how can I?"

I'm not frightened by death. I'm disgusted by life so wasted in the living, repulsed that those who did live died underappreciated by the majority, saddened that I don't fully know how to honorably change this cycle. 

Maybe I'm not meant to know, but to just be quiet and shine through a silence that waits to obey. 

Maybe I'm not meant to change the world. But to let the world change itself as it is drawn to the light of Yeshua (Jesus). 

Do I have the strength to listen, as I do with clients? What gumption must I find in order to hold fast to joy through all this sorrow and fear? Somehow, as I reflect over these deaths that I've tried to not think on, somehow as I lay them all to rest, I think I've found my answer. 


P.S. 

After writing this all up, my great uncle died. It would be remiss of me to not share a few more words. The bulk of these was originally posted on Facebook. 

This picture is special because my great uncle (left) and grampa (right) didn't really get along before this. 

I've always had a special love for my great-uncle, Daniel, although I never remember meeting him. My first recollection of his existence was shortly after I first got FB and he commented on one of my posts ... to disagree with it. Shortly after it dawned upon me that he was the villainous older brother of my Grampa's lore.

For years he was determined to see me "make something of me". In his book, that meant rejecting God. We had the most grand of debates, in which he taught me how to properly understand and respect liberals and all things I disagreed with. 

It would be unfair of me to say that I never learned from him. I learned much. So very much. 

Mostly how to be more gracious and open-minded. I learned how to face my wrong beliefs ... and still find God, much to his chagrin. 

I've known he was sick for some time. I should have tried harder to find his address and write to him. I will always regret not doing so. I also regret not trying to see him at least once. And not telling him how much I'd come to admire him. 

A while back I bought his book. I'm now ready to read it. I know I'll probably not like a lot of it. But I think that'll be perfect, considering our relationship. A delight of mine is that he would be excited about where America is right now. 

He'd roll his eyes at how I feel, but also be partially pleased, I think. I only pray that my uncle found his Saviour at last and that he, too, is looking back at our heated debates fondly.


Comments

  1. Death sure has a way of making us think, doesn't it? Your words about futility resonate with me, especially now given the state of our nation. I think of Solomon and his conclusions in Ecclesiastes. But I suppose it is not for us to decide whether our efforts are "enough" or meaningful enough or worth it. We just carry on in hope and trust that God has it all in hand.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, because really, who are we to determine what must be done and the worth of it all? If the Master has given work, a servant can do no less but obey. And so that is where I am at. Must I know the purpose, or even why? How liberating it is do just love, give, and even trust. I love Ecclesiastes. I hope you are well! I meant to invite you to something ...

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  2. This is a beautiful tribute to these heartbreaking deaths. <3 I lost a great-aunt in 2020, and it hurts. Sometimes I despair, thinking "Why am I still here when others aren't?" but I have to remember that God has a plan for each of us and knows best. <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah! I just hope it spurs me and all of us onward to pay better tribute to those who are in our lives now, and to never put life to shame by wasting away day to day.

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