In many ways I am a late-comer to grief. Providence has arranged for me to born late enough to be safely distant from the passing of older generations of family, and young enough to have most immediate family with me still. My wife lost her grandfather ten years ago, and although that was a seismic event in our lives, it was one of the few I have felt personally.
Until now. My childhood best buddy died suddenly just the other day. I am shocked over the shock that I feel. His death has led to a reclaiming and reopening of a chest of memories that time has buried under other boxes of life’s events. I sort through mental images that span from 9 to 19 and beyond. I have forgotten how much I remember. And in ways that seem irrational, I weep. With a death of a childhood friend, I feel, or fear-to-feel, the death of part of childhood.
Death makes the speed of life come to a screeching halt. Beside the grief of losing a loved one, another message resonates. Love one another. Love one another deeply and fiercely. Time and distance happen. Life happens. Love is greater. Loyalty is stronger. Handle with care the people and relationships God gives you. People: friends, family, friends… and family… people matter. Not one of them can be replaced. God has graced each of them uniquely to landscape our lives. They are here for us to love and encourage, and we are there to serve, love, and celebrate their lives. We are here, under God, to enrich one another’s lives.
I know we get annoyed. I know we prefer some people in smaller doses. I know that the fellowship of certain people actually aggravates us. I don’t mean to say we should discard healthy boundaries or sweep real problems under the rug. But if it is possible for love to cover a multitude of sins, let alone a handful of hurts, then let us love one another deeply and fiercely while we can. It strikes me that as Jesus was preparing for his last moments with his disciples, one of the most urgent commands he gave them was love. He implored them to “love one another; As I have loved you, you must love another” (John 13:34). The frailty and finality of life reminds us of the priceless and timeless power of love. Let us love one another. We’ll never regret loving generously. We might regret anything less.
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