I don't fear death for myself... but I hate it.
I hate it for every friend it's taken away; for every loved one I've lost.
I hate it for what it does to people. I hate it for wearing us down and making us forget the beautiful, vibrant glory that is living... because all we can remember is what we've lost.
I hate that it gives nothing, yet takes everything.
I hate that it's hurting the people I care about most. Death cares not whether you're ready; whether it's convenient. It charges on, harsh and unyielding. It leaves devastated lives in its wake... left to carry whatever burdens the Taken left.
Death is an awful, horrible thing... something which changes those of us who are left until we can never be the same. It's like torture... you're having parts of you removed, a little bit of a time. Sure, you can carry on. But you walk with a limp. You're missing fingers and toes and an ear, but not everyone can see that, so they wonder why it takes you so long to do what you need to do. Death handicaps us. It breaks us.
That's just the side of death that I know, though. This side of eternity.
On the other side, death is a herald for the return of loved ones to their home. It signifies reunion, pieces of the body of Christ coming together forever. Rather than a slow torture, it's like a party which lasts forever, and which people can come to whenever they're ready. I
believe Paul was ready... but at the same time, I don't think we were. I don't think we were ready for the pain. I don't think we were ready for the shock of hearing him so willingly accepting his transition into eternity. Of course, he did nothing wrong by saying it... in fact, I think it helped us realize that he wasn't going to bounce back from this. There was no denial... and I don't think my dad will be in denial when it's his time either. But it was still hard. I felt like I instantaneously became Tish and Ruby. I saw Tish's love for him as a life partner, and Ruby's innocence as she was raised by her daddy. It broke my heart, seeing this family, who I so dearly love, going through this.
I don't want to think about death from the other side. I hate it too much to want to see it in that light.
It makes me wish I were already on that side of eternity... joyously welcoming my friends rather than watching them slip away. I know enough about the Bible to know that there's a very good chance that people who take themselves into that eternity end up somewhere they never would have wanted to be. I hope that's not the case (I have a few friends of loved ones who have chosen that end, and I hope that they will be in heaven), but I don't want to presume anything either.
So rather than trying to make my 'eternity' happen, I'm going to press on. I'm going to do whatever I can (little though it may be) to comfort the people I love... the people he loved. I'm going to trudge on through this, with God's help, because I know He helps me even when I'm broken. Maybe especially when I'm broken.
And in the meantime, I'm going to try to picture death the way Jesus sees it. People joining Him, worshiping Him... so giddy with joy and happiness that they have no idea the people they've left behind. I'm going to try to focus on THAT side of death... because as bitter as death is on this side, I know it's all the more sweet on the other side of eternity.