There are two sides to living and dying. What once was dead will be renewed to life again. Norma Lindbergh, a long time member of our church and our newsletter editor died at Torrance Memorial last Monday. The family had decided to take her off the ventilator, and make her as comfortable as possible. Teri, our Pastoral Care Director, called me about mid-morning to say that the family needed us as soon as possible. She was at least an hour away. I, oddly enough, was right around the corner at Lowes, where Frances and I were picking supplies for the work party at church. I said I would go even though I was still in my workout shorts from the Y. By the time I got there, Chaplain James Kim, a wonderful man who has known his own share of loss was already holding the hands of the family around Norma. I came in, joined the circle and we prayed. The next few hours as Norma slipped slowly into the light were some of the most intense I have ever experienced at the side of someone dying. We took turns stroking her forehead, the family crying, and my singing (can you believe it? Singing!) Spirit of Life into her ear, urging her on to the light.
Teri joined us at the very end. We cried, we prayed and we said goodbye. I got back in my car, picked up Frances from Lowes and we continued on with our errands. About an hour later, I pulled the car over. I started to cry. I just couldn’t go on with life as it was. A friend had died, a great being, a corrector of my bad grammar. My heart felt like it was breaking. Frances drove me home.
Later that night, her death began to renew me again. I remembered how Norma would remind me that every bad sentence deserves a second chance. So too, I thought, does every life, every failure, every mistake deserve a second chance. Easter was working on me that night. Easter was renewing my life even in so deep a loss.
We learn again, that beyond the stones of our struggles lies a new life of grace and giving, life renewed again.
With Grace and Grit, John