By Tom Quiner
“Have you ever actually seen someone die?”
This was the question posed by my good friend, Bob, who is 87 years old. He said he has never actually seen someone die.
Readers of this blog may recall that my beloved mother-in-law lived with us for fifteen years. She died here at home, cradled in my wife Karen’s (her daughter’s) arms. We knew it was coming. Her 92 year old body was simply worn out.
A few minutes before she took her last breath, her eyes suddenly opened wide. She didn’t see us. She wasn’t aware of us on ‘this side.’ As my wife said, she sees the angels coming. Then they closed.
And then she simply stopped breathing.
We weren’t sure if she was dead, so Karen (a former RN) checked her pulse and confirmed that her soul had moved on to her next life.
All of this happened nearly two years ago.
The sting of death “hurts like hell”, to use a contemporary expression. It hurts like hell for the living left behind. Although it flies in the face of cultural norms, my mother-in-law was one of my best friends. Our politics and religion were the same. And we both love my wife dearly.
I was happy Mom had gone onto her reward, which I very much believe is with Jesus in Heaven. But I miss her.
Think about it: what is hell? It is separation from God, Who is Love. So when a loved one dies, it hurts like hell because we are being separated from a loved one.
I find such comfort from a phrase a beloved priest friend, Fr. Jerry, used to say all the time: “Christians never say goodbye.” We are reunited with them in heaven. Fr. Jerry died last year. Karen and I saw him a couple of days before he died, and it hurt like hell knowing we wouldn’t see him again … in this world.
The pain I feel when separated by death from someone I love is proof to me of a God, for God IS Love.
I’d like to turn my friend’s question around: “Have you ever seen someone live?” To really live is to really love. And when you’re around someone who really lives, it hurts we, the living, like hell when they die and go to heaven.
But when our day comes, what a joyous reunion it will be!