Yesterday I lost a great friend ... a wonderful lady that I've known and loved for my entire life. Today I am grieving for her, already missing those precious parts of who she was that I cherished and loved and was not ready to part with so suddenly.
Grief is never easy. I've grieved before ... when my great-grandmothers died, at the passing of my grandfather and my grandmother, when my first marriage ended. I dearly loved each one but they were all either very old (over 90) or very sick (cancer, alzheimer's). In a way, death for them seemed like a blessing and the grief was somehow not as overwhelming.
This sort of grief is a first for me. My friend was the same age as my parents, and her death was so very sudden. Sixty-three seems far too young to die, especially for someone who was so full of life. Just last week I saw her at my grandfather's Thanksgiving Breakfast. She hugged my neck and we talked, never dreaming that would be our last conversation. This is the kind of grief that evokes questions ... "Why, Lord? Why now? Why her?"
And yet, there is a supreme peace in the midst of this grief. My friend knew Jesus. She knew Him well. She loved Him and served Him and shared Him in all areas of her life. I know that while I grief and mourn and shed tears for her passing, she is singing with the angels, bowing low before the throne of her Beloved Saviour, walking streets of gold, gazing at the crystal sea, soaking in the majesty and wonder and complete awe of God Almighty. She was redeemed on earth and so she is now glorified in heaven. Today she is in paradise.
I can't describe the wonder of thinking about her now ... knowing she is completely healed of this earthly sin and shame, praising God in her now perfect body. She will no longer battle the day to day struggles of sin and pain. I know that she wouldn't come back to earth for a second now that she has experienced being with God in all of His perfect holiness.
Somehow this knowledge makes me long for the wonders of heaven a bit more, for I know that my grief will last for only a short season but her joy will now last for eternity.
Somehow this knowledge makes me miss her all the more, but not truly want her back on earth. Rather, I would like to go where she is ... to be with my Savior in a place so glorious that I cannot fathom it in my brain.
Somehow, the death of my friend has taught me that sometimes there is a joy that comes only in the midst of grief.
I am a better person for loving her on earth. I am also a better person for experiencing the grief of her death, as with the death of all those who love Christ, as seen through joy-covered glasses.