I remember, with vivid detail, receiving a phone call informing me my father had died. The date was July 3, 1997. Shortly thereafter I was walking through the living room and saw Spike (I hope I have the name right), the dog in the Rug Rats cartoons. My then three year old son had put Spike down for his nap, on the couch, covered with a blanket.
What I took from that moment (and I don't expect anyone to understand this) was that life goes on. A little boy, caring for his "pet," oblivious to the fact his grandfather was gone. My world was crashing down, but life went on. It felt so tragic, but yet....so right.
My dear friend Dora passed away on Tuesday. She was 48. Her sister called me yesterday and told me the news. Dora and I had known each other for almost 30 years. The last 20 of those years having been spent apart. We lost track of each other. We were reconnected about 18 months ago. It was like no time had passed. The only "problem" - she was in North Carolina and I am in Washington State.
We laughed and giggled and spent many silly hours on the phone. Then she got sick. She was being treated at a hospital known worldwide for helping people with her disease. They couldn't help Dora. She died at home, peacefully. Most importantly she knew the Lord and knew where she was going.
The tears I have cried today are not for her. I am happy for Dora! She no longer struggles to breathe. She has no pain. She has no fear. My tears are those of guilt and regret. Why didn't I call her more often? Why didn't I write her letters (she didn't have a computer)? Why had I not made an effort to find her years ago? We could have had so much more time. Then it occurred to me: Dora isn't up there annoyed with me. Dora isn't angry. She is free from the struggles and sins of this world.
I said to my 15 year old son, "Grandma says there is a veil between heaven and earth, and they cannot see us, or hear us. Do you think that's true?" He replied, "Yes, I do think it's true. If they could see everything happening down here, it wouldn't be heaven." I told him I would tell God what I wanted Dora to know, and ask Him to deliver my message.
Later in the day my son told me how he deals with the death of a loved one. He said, "I don't think of them as being gone, because they aren't gone. I will see them again. So I think of them as being on a long vacation, without a phone. Try thinking about it that way Mom. She's on a long vacation, without a phone." Precious words of comfort from the same boy who put his stuffed dog down for a nap, so many years ago.
Lord, thank you for allowing Dora to pass away peacefully. Thank you for the blessing she has been in my life. If you have a moment, could you please tell her I love her and miss her? Thank you Lord.