Life Meets Death

31st July, 2011 - Posted by Claire Larsen - No Comments

It had happened so fast. A 55-year old man driving to work on an ordinary day. What was he thinking? Was he thinking about the kiss from his wife that he had snatched as he left the house or was he already in office mode, organizing his busy day in his mind?  An ordinary Tuesday … then a violent heart attack, and this man who looked so healthy on the outside was dead!

This unexpected death surprised everyone at my husband’s IBM office here in Mechanicsburg, Most people who had known Rand knew that he had had a heart attack thirteen years earlier and that after that attack Rand had declared that he would live each day of the next ten to fifteen years that  he was told he had to its fullest. To the outside observer  this man who had looked healthy (or so it seemed)  was now gone.

The funeral service was yesterday. I sat at the back of the room with my husband watching the people arrive. I knew almost no one so I wondered what connection each person had to the man lying so still in the casket at the front of the room. A continuous cycle of pictures flicked on a television at the side of the room. Rand as a new husband … as a new father holding his infant son … as a playful dad swimming in a pool … as a middle-aged man with two grown children and a proud wife by his side – photographs that captured the essence of a man’s life lived well.

The crowd sensed the service was ready to begin. A hush descended upon the room, the murmuring of voices getting softer and softer until no one was talking, but waiting and listening. As the room hung suspended in an anticipatory silence, a baby cried in the distance.  It was not a screaming sound, but it didn’t stop. The room was so quiet that the baby’s cry punctuated the silence and forced everyone to recognize its presence. The cries were the sound of new life, life recently born, crying out in a building where death lay cold and silent. This baby would never know the man in the casket, and the man in the casket had lost the opportunity to hold another tiny child in his comforting arms. A beginning and an end — one crying for attention and the other having commanded the attention of his loved ones for the last time.

I don’t know if anyone else in the room heard the baby. Probably they did. I don’t know if anyone else in the room turned philosophical in the few seconds before the service began, but I did. I always get philosophical at funerals. I wonder about the finalness of death; I muse about what the first few days of eternity must be like; I think about my life and what will last when I’m no longer here.  In the hushed room among a crowd of strangers, life met death.

I knew even less about the crying baby that I did about the man who had died. Yet the cry of a child reminded me that new lives go on, even as others pass away. As long as I am here, I have a life to be lived for the glory of God. Every breath of life comes from our Heavenly Father. We need to make each day count for who knows when the day we begin will be our last.

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