I think of it as “death creep,” the point in life at which I lose one to two friends in my age cohort a year. I learned this morning that the Lord harvested one of my friends last night, by means of a heart attack, quite unexpectedly. I think she had the most perfect heart I’ve ever known.
I say “unexpectedly” because I think most of us are too stupid to expect death. We fear it superstitiously, thinking somehow the fear will repel its advance. It’s only by the mercy of memory that we are able to forget about death for any time at all.
But my deceased friend knows more than I, because she sees, first hand, the reign of grace through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:21, ESV). What happiness! And providentially, another friend, Heidi, remarked just the other day that a view of a cemetery reminds one to think with some constancy of the resurrection. How sad for someone who would instead find the view “creepy.”
I find the loss of each friend unlike any other. But very slowly, I am beginning to find more joy in loss. The joy does not lessen the sense of loss, or not very much; nor does it fully displace the shock and sorrow. But joy comes alongside these other sensibilities, like the dawn, that so inevitably displaces the darkness.