Our only comfort


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).




  1. rachel on April 20, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    love his ut shirt.
    my heart’s with the mcelroys and parsons today.

  2. Muggs on April 20, 2010 at 10:45 AM

    Beautiful post, Annie. I’m moved and saddened and uplifted and encouraged.

  3. FW on April 20, 2010 at 10:48 AM

    What a beautiful eulogy – Kent sounds like he was a great guy.

    I’m saddened by your loss…

  4. Erin on April 20, 2010 at 11:10 AM

    Sorry to hear about you and your family’s loss Annie :(

  5. The Bug on April 20, 2010 at 11:32 AM

    This is a beautiful remembrance…

  6. Tad on April 20, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    A mentor of mine is going through this smame battle with Pancriatic Cancer right now. I have thought a lot about walking alongside someone facing the end of their life. I have come away with the sense that as painful as it is to lose someone to cancer, it is sacred space, and as aweful as it sounds, I have a chance to see a man die well. So many depart this life bitter and angry at God/cercumstances. But in this case if death is the result, I get to see my friend go to the Father in a place of peace and love and joy.

    It sounds like your family got to witness something much the same.

    You’ve had more than your share of seeing lives cut short, and it really sucks. But at the same time, what a treasure it is to remember Kent and the grace and love that he showed as he faced into the reality of his own mortality.

  7. Carmen on April 20, 2010 at 3:23 PM

    What a beautiful picture. And yes, indeed, hope springs eternal in this one small way… in life and in death we belong to God. Love to you and yours as you grieve and live graciously and fly kites in honor of a wonderful man.

  8. Jacklyn Johnston on April 20, 2010 at 7:57 PM

    When my grandparents, who were basically 2nd parents to us, died, the nicest thing someone said was, “this sucks.” I just remember how nice that was to hear because of course, you know all other stuff people say but when someone gives you the ok to be sad and although you know everything else, this sucks. I hate that you, and everyone really, have to experience this but like you, what a privilege it is to see. I was with my grandparents for a week to say goodbye and although it sucked, I’ve never seen such grace and love. I will NEVER forget it.

  9. Casey Evans on April 20, 2010 at 11:05 PM

    I hope it’s not insensitive of me to say Hook em Kent:)

    And way to use the Heidelberg Catechism.

    See you and hug you in a couple days.

  10. Joel Rakes on April 20, 2010 at 11:48 PM

    So sorry to hear about this Annie….

    Beautiful post, really moving.

  11. Katie @ cakes, tea and dreams on April 21, 2010 at 8:09 AM

    Oh, Annie. So sorry for your family’s loss.

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