Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tears from Heaven

I woke up Tuesday morning with something on my mind:
This column.
I wondered what the heck I would write about this week.
I don’t get stuck too often, but I had been struggling for a topic, waffling between some post-Father’s Day musings or an unsurprising commentary on the crummy weather we’ve been experiencing lately.
Neither exactly tripped my trigger for some reason.
The house was quiet as I worked my way downstairs. Last week, my wife hitched a roundtrip ride with some friends to North Carolina, where she is joyfully enjoying the company of two of our grandsons. My current housemate, Max, the striped-tailed cat, was still dozing on the front porch after an evening dodging raccoons and sparring with Big Taffy, his fat-cat nemesis from across the way.
It was, I figured, a good time to sit on the porch, sip a cup of coffee and glance through my morning Star Courier while I thought of something to say.
It didn’t take long.
The obituary page offered the news that two long-time friends had recently died.
Dave Costenson was a friend since high school, a happy-go-lucky, big-hearted guy who, back then, ignored the rule that said Kewanee guys weren’t supposed to get along with Galva guys and became a pal.
Ruby Lang was one of my mother’s bridge-playing buddies. She was a lot younger than mom, but she always enjoyed Ruby’s vivacious good looks, her upbeat outlook on life and her wonderful laugh; attributes I came to appreciate, too, as I got old enough to know better.
Both died of cancer.
Both died too soon.
“Why do people have to die? ” I said, startling Max, who had crawled into my lap and thought we were alone.
The answer is, I don’t exactly know. Neither does Max.
But I do know this:
I know that faith gives us an answer we can try to accept, even when it’s hard. And I believe that the life we lead now is only a preliminary for the life we’re getting ready for.
I think Coach Cos would go along with a sports analogy that goes kind of of like this:
Life on earth is just a practice session for the big show to come.
Work hard. Be ready.
And Ruby would probably agree that you play every hand you’re dealt with grace, joy and love.
But what about those who are left behind when a loved one dies? What about the spouses, children, other family members and friends who hang onto that person with an undying mixture of love, memories, tears and laughter?
I think it’s supposed to be that way.
I think souls are like kites that fly best when they stay connected--even by a delicate string--to the lives and loves they shared on earth. They dance in the breeze, beautiful and free and still a part of us forever.
I didn’t know how I’d end this story until a sudden shower broke the silence of my morning on the porch.
“Hmmm,” I thought. “Tears from heaven.”
Max looked up at me and I thought again.
“Tears of joy.”

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