You are the true master of death, because the true master does not seek to run away from Death. He accepts that he must die, and understands that there are far, far worse things in the living world than dying. (from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J K Rowling)
Yesterday I attended the memorial service for my friend Gail’s father, Ray. Ray lived a long, full life, and was healthy right up until the last couple of months. I will always remember that his blue eyes twinkled when he smiled, which happened a lot, and that he was the kind of person who was always concerned with others. Even as the end drew near, I got the sense that he was not a man who had unwillingly resigned himself to the inevitable, but instead one who accepted the reality of death with dignity, peace, and faith. As we sat through the memorial service, I kept thinking of Rich Mullins’ song “Elijah,” the chorus of which says, “When I leave, I want to go out like Elijah / With a whirlwind to fuel my chariot of fire / And when I look back on the stars / It’ll be like a candlelight in Central Park / And it won’t break my heart to say goodbye.” I’m sure that Ray hadn’t expected his time to come so soon, or so rapidly, but I’m even more certain that it didn’t break his heart to say goodbye.
Death is hard. But our culture seems so obsessed with evading death, with living forever, with being young forever. We act as if death is not natural, when really our attitude about it is what’s not natural. I guess I just hope that I can live my life with dignity and peace and faith, like Ray did, so that when the end comes, I’ll be a master of death, and it won’t break my heart to say goodbye.
[P.S.–sorry for not posting yesterday. By the time we got home from the funeral, I plum forgot.]