Grief Unlike the World's

The moment I have been dreading since we moved into our home nine years ago happened this weekend.  Our precious 85 year old neighbor died.  First the phone call, then the visit from the grieving son, and then the telling to our children that their elderly playmate was gone.

It was their first true loss, the first time they learned what it meant to want to hold a hand, to hear a voice one more time, and not be able to.  It was a long time we sat together and cried, the sounds of grief coming and going like waves lapping. 

And slowly, the words came.  How we always pictured him taking care of his yard, his farmer's hat attempting to shield his weathered skin.  How thankful we were that he once rescued our third born wandering close to the street in his diaper, coming over later with a new latch for our gate.  How he had laughed watching boys sling mud in the moat they built with their own hands.  How we would treasure his gifts, the pocket knives that spoke of manhood to hungry boy hearts.  How we wished we could turn back the clock to see him one last time.  How we would miss the light in his workshop.  How we didn't understand.

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (I Thessalonians 4:13-18)

And we spoke of hope.  And we spoke of the joyful expectation we now carry of seeing him again, healed and whole.  And we spoke of praise, for He is good, and

it is when we hurt the most that our hearts must praise the loudest.

And we waited until each one could give voice to their praise, holding and rocking in between. 

"I love you, Jesus.  I praise You, for You are good." 

My children woke this morning with new wisdom.  They are discovering what it means to treasure the ones you love and to make each parting a benediction.  They are learning what it means to care for the orphans and the widows.  They are beginning to understand that it is in the sacrifice of praise that faith comes alive.

And they now know what it means to look forward to the day when we shall once more be neighbors with those our hearts miss.