On Sunday a young man –he would have turned 18 next month- died in a head on collision. I was informed via email that Mark had passed away. The name was familiar but no face would accompany the name-still I prayed. I received another email on Thursday announcing the prayers and wake were taking place in my old parish. The wake was a traditional all night viewing of the body "lying in state". Off we went —my two older adolescents and I— to pay our respects.
When we entered the church I instantly recognized the family in the picture. I attended the same church with them for years. I recalled the mother when she was pregnant with Mark. A knot formed in my stomach. This was not a stranger; rather this was someone I was familiar with. We stayed at the wake –we viewed the body- we spoke to the father- and we prayed. Then we came home. My daughter crying –my son and I in silence.
Apparently Mark was driving to work-probably rushed because he liked to be on time- and attempted to pass too many cars at once. His life ended with that decision. The unbearable pain of this choice will live on as long as his family members live out their earthly lives. They are Christians and as such their hope is in eternal life-one day they will reunite with Mark . Oh what joy that day will bring!
But what about now? Someone who they loved, someone who was irreplaceable, is gone from their day to day lives.
Spring time always fills me with excitement and a desire to move -to travel -get out and get busy. Today was no exception. I marveled when the sun broke through the clouds shining brightly after a good shower of rain. I watched a van stop at a news paper box and two teenagers jump out quickly to grab a paper. They returned to the van laughing and running. I had just dropped off my son to jam with two of his friends. I watched as they both walked down the street, laughing and chatting with guitars in hands heading to another friends home so the three could jam together. The sun was shining-life was good.
Then a it struck me- all of the people I observed appear to be living life as normal. Meanwhile two parents and two siblings, a mere ten miles away, are living the unbearable pain of losing a loved one. A loss made more difficult to bear because it was preventable. While the rest of us carry on enjoying the sun-they may be trying to find any speck of light.
Please dear God reduce the pain of their loss- the gut wrenching pain. Pain that is similar to labor, so intense and painful, but difficult to remember the intensity once it has dulled or faded with time. But we never forget how difficult the pain was to bear. Or the fear to close ones eyes because once the eyes close the reality sinks in. The pain of this reality is too painful to bear. It is easier to remain awake and exhausted than it is to close ones eyes and feel the pain.
Perhaps they will walk into a store and watch people carry on as though nothing in the world has happened. They may silently scream 'how can you live and laugh my son has just died'? Those living and laughing are innocent ,they may not have experienced this pain, God forbid they ever would.
The heart ache having to live and readjust to the new reality is a long and difficult road. The family will eventually merge into life again. They will return to work, or school, or previous activities. A semblance of normalcy will emerge, but a piece of light is forever snuffed out until they meet in the place of eternal light.
Life will become bearable again- they will even find laughter. If they journey with God through this pain they will emerge stronger and better people, but they will never emerge the same. An experience such as this is life altering. Their Mark will never be far from their hearts –in sadness and in laughter he will be present and yet missing. A reality too difficult to explain and for some impossible to comprehend. So dear friends I ask you to pray for them please.
Eternal rest grant unto him O'Lord-let perpetual light shine upon him . May he rest in peace. Amen!