CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter For the Years of Winter…
I’m reluctant to address this, because it is sad, and abrupt, and embarrassing. The sadness outweighs all else, but for me personally, the embarrassment is real.
If you’ve not read the CIW of Feb. 17, this would be a good time to scroll down and do so. Okay, now that you’ve done that…
Bob came up from FL to IN for his mother’s funeral. Friends who attended her funeral and talked with him said that “He looked as good as any of us,” which is faint praise, since Bob always looked better than any of us, but they were pleased to see “The miracle boy,” as they were calling him in FL.
Since I had only a snail mail address for him, I printed a copy of the CIW and sent it to him, with the notation on it that I would call him the next week “to take back all the sappy things I said about you.”
Just as I was getting ready to make that call, Dave called me first. He had just heard from Charlie Bob. When Bob returned to FL, he began to feel bad. He returned to the doctors. They said, “Apparently our idea that we misdiagnosed you was a misdiagnosis. You have five hours to five days to live.” Bob had died the night before.
Judging from when I mailed it, my letter probably arrived at his house the day before his death, arrived with the notion that Bob might not be trustworthy because he wouldn’t even die when he was supposed to. I can only hope that it was lost in the shuffle. But it probably wasn’t. That’s the embarrassing part.
I have some experience with healing miracles, when one you love gets well against all odds. I know what joy that is. I’ve not suffered a reversal, though. I have no idea how it must feel to be told that you yourself, or someone you love, has been cured, only to have it taken back and told you have almost no time to go from the joy of healing to the free fall of death. That’s the sad and abrupt part.
Brenda Egolf-Fox called this week to say Kim had died. We were close friends from The Academy of Parish Clergy. She asked me to let the other APC members know that Kim had finally died from his long struggle with an ALS type of disease. He had plenty of time to prepare himself and his family. Brenda said he had done that well. Then last night I got an email telling me that Don Survant, one of my closest buddies from high school, the kind you double-date with, the kind you’re Best Man for, had died almost two years ago. Don had told me in October of 2010 that he had cancer, asked for prayers, then remained quiet, as was his way, and slipped off two years later.
Why is death is so eccentric in its ways, giving one time to prepare, another time to slip away, another no time at all? I do not know. I do know, though, that “Since we know not what the day may bring forth, but only that the hour for serving thee is always present, may we wake to the instant claims of thy holy will, not waiting for tomorrow, but yielding today.”
May the peace of Christ be with you.
John Robert McFarland
The “place of winter” mentioned in the title line is Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where life is defined by winter even in the summer!