Note: I spoke these words yesterday at the reception after the funeral. The original plan had been to speak these words at the committal with an empty wheelchair. Weather, and my own exhaustion, changed the plan somewhat. These words are a reflection on my last conversations with my mother.
One last word regarding my mother’s passing. Because her story has inspired so many, this epilogue is a frank sharing of a concern Mom and I held together these past 28 1/2 years.
Over the years, nearly everyone who spoke to her, or to me about her, would talk about her strength. Sadly, this often led to these well-intentioned relatives and friends making reference to the day of my parents’ accident, as if that day defined her life (and mine) forever after that. Part of what these people were actually seeing, probably unknowingly, was a Rosalee who was determined NOT to be defined by the events of one really horrible day in 1986. It was about carrying on. That’s all she could do. Call it strength if you like. For her it was far more about necessity. While Mom and I disagreed on quite a lot as I grew older, this one sentiment–not being defined by July 18, 1986–was something we were always in lockstep agreement on. We both lived by this pretty resolutely.
Mom often wondered at the language of strength that was used of her. It wasn’t something she was always comfortable with. Many have used the same language of me and I feel exactly the same way. If only people knew the whole story…
Strength is NOT one of the Bible’s fruits of the Spirit. It has a certain usefulness…but it carries with it quite a few liabilities as well. I feel it is better not to see Mom’s story as about strength, but rather how she tried to use her strength to a higher end. Her story is about as pro-life a story as I know. She fought so strongly to LIVE.
And these past months, she was doing exactly that as well. The term “euthanasia” translates out of the Greek as “good death.” But the term in our modern day usage means nothing of the sort. In fact, it is exactly the opposite of what the Bible would call a good death. A good death happens when the dying person lives the life God has given them all the way to the end God has planned for them. In my last day with her, we spent 10.5 hours together and she didn’t leave us any too quickly. After I left, she died. Having seen this sort of thing before, I believe that it is because time spent with me was worth living for. Time spent with one another is always worth living for. Seeking one’s own death, even under terminal circumstances (a la Brittany Maynard), is anything but a “good death.”
Mom’s wheelchair now sits empty in our garage in Genesee. It was, in a very real and concrete way, the last visible connection to a very horrible day in both of our lives. But I rejoice in the fact that it now sits empty…
…because WE WON’T BE NEEDING IT ANYMORE!
When Christ comes again, two broken bodies will rise out of that grave in Ixonia. They will rise imperishable because they had Christ’s victory in this life. They had the victory proclaimed in the “It Is Finished” of the cross and renewed again in the “Christ is risen!” of the empty tomb.
And that’s all there is to be said! I pray we all learn to treasure the victory of Christ and that we die in His strength and not our own.
So, we give 1 Cor. 15:55-57 the last say.
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
Love (on behalf of both my mother and myself),
1 Tim. 1:15-17