On death, grief, and the bent of my life

We were staying with our Mam Maw, our maternal grandmother, my sister and I were, when we got the news. Mam Maw hung up the phone and turning toward us, she pulled us to herself as she told us that our other grandmother, our dad’s mom, had died.

My sister immediately burst into tears while I, no less sad or bereft, stood there shocked by the loss of death and, if truth be told, perhaps somewhat embarrassed by my stoicism.

Of course if you knew me or my sister as girls you would probably say our responses were spot on. I have always been the more reserved–dare I say the more boring–of the two of us. My sister would drift through the house singing at the top of her lungs and I would be in the quietest corner I could find hunched over a book.

One Halloween my sister and I got the inspiration to trick or treat our own house. Our home at the time had several doors that opened to the outside so we decided we could go “door to door,” in the assumption our mom would indulge us by skittering from one door to the next with the requisite candy.

Meanwhile my dad had his own inspiration to attempt to scare us. He grabbed a sheet and as we made our way across the yard he ran by on the other side of the house with the sheet waving behind him. I was frightened out of my wits, frozen by my fear, unable to move, my mind immediately racing with how and where we could retreat, hide, escape. My sister, on the other hand, propelled me forward, laughing, barely containing her excitement and was it joy?

That’s us in a nutshell, particularly in terms of strong emotion. Me, frozen, thinking, standing back. My sister, embracing, transparent, eager even.

My husband and I received a similarly heartbreaking phone call a couple of weeks ago. This time my husband got the call and he immediately wept upon receiving the terrible news. Our friend Ron had been killed. I didn’t cry right then but prayed over and over, aloud and silently both, “Oh, my God.”

Some of us cry and others of us brood. I’ve brooded much in the days since that phone call as the truths of life and death gain greater weight and urgency. I’ve been moved to action too; in the tradition we Southerners have of marking all of life’s events with food, I’ve cooked a pork tenderloin and a Dr. Pepper cake and a squash casserole, all meager offerings in the face of the family’s devastating grief. Necessary and needful but still inadequate. What is a casserole to assuage the loss of husband and father?

Ron’s death was sudden and shocking. As I brood and ponder, I sometimes cannot wrap my mind around it. How very bizarre it seems, and I don’t mean that disrespectfully, but to consider that one Sunday Ron was there at church with us, serving and conversing and singing and praising, and by the next he was dead and buried? It is sad, unspeakably so. It is heartbreaking. It is shocking. It is sobering.

One thing I can say unequivocally about Ron: he loved the Lord Jesus. That I can assert without a shadow of a doubt. He certainly did not know that the Lord would call him home on that particular Wednesday night but it didn’t matter, not ultimately, because this was the bent of Ron’s life. His love for the Lord marked him; it was how he lived.

All my brooding has led me to this question: should the Lord take me today, tomorrow, or four decades from now, is the love of the Lord the bent of my life? Could you stand over my casket and say without a doubt that this girl lived for the glory of her Savior? It was so of my friend and I want it to be so for me. I think Ron would be happy for this to be his legacy: men and women saved from their sins by the grace of the Lord and living the rest of their lives, however long, however short, aflame with affection for their Savior.

Yes and amen.

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Author: Lisa Spence

Wife, mother, Bible teacher, bibliophile, occasional blogger

3 thoughts on “On death, grief, and the bent of my life”

  1. Well said,Lisa. Your ability to loveingly analyze then express what you’ve thought about is truly great – an amazing gift from God. Thank you for sharing with us.
    I’m sorry for the sadness y’all feel in the loss of this good friend and pray for the Lords peace & comfort to be yours.

  2. Very well said Lisa and so sorry for the loss of this Christian man who meant so much to his family and the New Covenant Baptist Church family. So glad he knew our Lord like he did and my prayer is that I can be a witness for others in something I say or do each day and never take life on this earth for granted. My prayers are with you all. Sharron

    1. Thank you Lisa for your comments about my son Ron . Our loss has been devastating and the pain overwhelming .He was the oldest of our two sons and he and his brother was supposed to be here to help us navigate our golden years .We make our plans and we assume how things will be . But God has his own plans and we are shocked when it is not the same as ours. Ron and his family were always at our house for Sunday lunch and the afternoon .We had so much fun together and there is an empty chair in our home and a larger hole in our hearts .We are so thankful to his church family for your out pouring of love to all of us .It is such a comfort to us to know that there is people that knew what a fine Christian man he was and will cherish his memory as we do. I know you will continue to minister to Tricia and the girls . We ask that you would remember us in your prayers in the days ahead .

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