…and I expect you know the rest. Death has been much to the fore in the last couple of weeks. First, I finally managed to meet up with my brother’s school friend, whom I had re-discovered in an extraordinary way through a conference brochure our tenant gave me. The connection with death is that my brother committed suicide in 1975. My mother had often wondered what became of his school friends, and it is really quite miraculous that we found this guy, and not only that but since I knew him as my brother’s friend, he has become a Christian and is involved in counselling with a Christian outfit. So a couple of weeks ago I met up with him and his wife and took them to see my mother, which was a strange but in some ways healing event (he confessed he felt he had not supported my brother adequately at the time, so maybe it was healing for him too). It is all so long ago and we were all so young at the time – he is now 63 and it is poignant to think Stephen could have been 63 now and had a wife, children and maybe a grandchild as his friend does. I found the whole occasion quite stressful but am glad we have made this contact.
Secondly, and much more immediate, is the fact that my friend Lesley has suddenly got much worse and is clearly in her last few days if not hours. About 10 of us from church went to see her in the hospice yesterday, had a little service of prayer for her and sang at her bedside, but she was either asleep or unconscious the whole time. In the last eight years we have lost her husband at 50, and her daughter at 20, both from the same genetic condition which can cause cancer. I am quite sure it was her daughter’s death which brought her own breast cancer back. Now her son, who is only 26, is going to be alone in the world apart from extended family who are all some distance away, and our church which he has grown up in but not joined. To make things worse, she did not manage to complete her will and was not able to sign a completed version the other day.
This is all intensely painful – she has been part of our faith community for over 40 years and of the congregation for its whole life. I can’t begin to imagine what it is like for her son.
Life is really on hold at the moment, while we wait to spring into action for her funeral, but in the meantime I have to write a sermon for next Sunday and don’t know if I will have to change it at the last minute. And I also have a series of Bible notes to write by the end of the month. So hard to try to put aside the grief and get on with things.