This past couple weeks has been pretty hard. Truth be told, the whole year has been hard, but the last couple weeks have just made it worse. As many people much more eloquent than I have written, there was a shooting yesterday at a school in Connecticut. I will not be writing about that here, as I don't feel that I have anything to add to the conversation, other than that all the families affected are in my prayers. Two weeks ago, one of my classmates lost her husband prematurely. (and while yes, even at 90 it feels premature to the remaining spouse, just like in the loss of my dear sweet friend in February, my classmate had only 11 years with her husband. At our ages, they should have had 60 more.) All this death reminds me that our lives here on earth are not guaranteed, and are very precious indeed.
The loss of my classmate's husband made me feel the loss of O.C. even more. It was a reminder that she was gone. I don't remember if O.C. and J.L. were at school at the same time - but I hope that they have met up in heaven and sent some love down to their spouses who miss them so very very much. That may not be a Biblical picture of heaven, but I find it comforting to think that when you get there, you see some people you know, and don't get lonely at all.
Of course, then I remember that we are going to be so very overcome with the joy and grandeur of seeing Jesus face to face that the things that worried us here will be forgotten. Heaven won't be a scary place; it won't matter that we go there alone, because we won't be alone when we arrive. We will truly know peace, and feel pure love, without the distortions of the world interfering.
Knowing this doesn't lessen my selfish tears, though. I didn't know my classmate or her husband very well, but I knew them well enough to know that they are the kind of people about which you say "Why them?". And with O.C., well, I did know her well enough to ask God why there couldn't be another way. Part of me is jealous that she has all the answers before me (which is kind of how it was in life too - she was a very smart woman!), and the other part is mad that God took her away. I want my friend back.
Then I feel guilty, because although she was very very loved, life was painful for her. I shouldn't want my friend back, because that would mean a return from Heaven's bliss to the horrible, horrible pain of the things she's endured. I should be happy that God has rescued her from this body of death and that she will never again know pain, or fear, or abandonment.
It makes me feel like a bad friend. If I truly loved her, I would be happy for her. But I can't help but be sad for her husband, her daughter, her friends, her parents, and me.
That sadness extends now to my classmate. I don't know their situation. Maybe life was wonderful, and this was as sudden from the inside as it appears from the outside. Maybe there were struggles there that outsiders couldn't see, didn't know about. That is not for me/us to know.
I do know this: God works in every situation, perhaps more in the tragedies. I cherish my living friends all the more now because I lost O.C. I have seen a whole community rally around J.L.'s wife both prayerfully and financially. (you can help too, by going to Everyday Kings and allowing the page to load - the author is donating her revenue to my classmate for the month of December).
I don't pretend to have any answers. And really, this isn't about me, not in the end. But here's to