Last week, my sister-in-law lost her dad. My nephews lost a grandpa. And all of the Parsons lost a man who has been family for the past 9 years.
Today, Kent McElroy will be laid to rest in a cemetery in Missouri. A few weeks ago, he chose his plot, and bought kites to be delivered after his death, asking that Jeremy and Ashley take Micah and Tyler to fly them next to his grave. He knew that he was leaving. If he could have willed himself to stay, he would have – but cancer does not honor our will, our wishes, our fight.
It is cruel. It is callous. And in its aftermath, it tempts me to be the same.
But Kent was the opposite. He was generous, and positive, and selfless. In the face of terminal, inoperable cancer, his heart was continually for God, and for others. He touched so many in his 56 years – and never so many as in his last one.
I was in Kansas City last week to say goodbye. It’s so hard to see death up close – painful, and terribly sad. But it’s also an enormous privilege to be invited into that precious time. I will never forget it.
Hearts are broken today. They will be for a long, long time – and maybe forever, because I don’t know that we ever “get over” the loss of a loved one. I think of my sweet sister-in-law Ashley, and how the mountains of her heart have slid into the sea – how nothing will ever be the same again, how nothing COULD ever be the same again.
But, as the Heidelberg Catechism says, my only comfort in life and in death is that I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. I believe that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (II Cor. 5:8). And even when I can’t see it or feel it, I have faith – and faith, no matter how small, is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).