As is usually the case, death has come knocking again. He makes his rounds constantly through the world. Sometimes with almost greedy insistence on a few individuals and others he spares for what seems a lifetime more. Interestingly, some view it as a favor and a blessing while others view it as horror and devastation. He undoubtedly works in both ways as we see manifest all around us.
My paternal Grandmother’s brother, David William Donaldson, passed away on Sunday. After what seems like a relatively short struggle with prostate cancer, he spent his last weeks in pain and hiding. It doesn’t sound like too many visitors. At least more angelic than earthly. His funeral falls tomorrow and with his age nearing 78 it doesn’t ring in as a great surprise. The longer one lives the more inevitable it comes that we will pass beyond the veil. As my Uncle Larry Andra has told at every funeral I have heard him speak, it is like a great ship leaving harbour. Those standing in the harbour sob and cry and the ships disappears and it is shouted, “there she goes”. On the other hand, as the ship comes in the shout is raised, “there she comes” and all is merry and joyful. We witness this in life and we witness the other side at death. We celebrate the ship coming in at birth and mourn her leaving. Really we only count ourselves blessed if we are not there for both of the same person.
Tonight was the funeral of another friend, Justin Levi Rose. I don’t know his age, but he must have only been about 25. I only met him two months ago when he come to visit the Family History Library where I work on Tuesday nights. A recent convert, he was putting together his family history to go to the temple and do baptisms for the dead. Over the course of several weeks we pieced together several significant portions of his family and he went to the temple with 50 or more family members to do their temple work. I found out tonight he sailed away last Tuesday of his own accord.
Therein is another interesting part of death. Some we see it coming and almost expect it. Others it seems to take completely by surprise. Yet to those to whom it comes, it seems to sometimes be the opposite. Uncle Dave just had a new knee and when I visited with him in April seemed like he had a new lease on life. I don’t think he anticipated death anytime soon just 6 months ago. Yet I find out that Justin has been living in a state of which they call bi-polar in which he has struggled with wanting death for some time. Yet in my eyes, I would never have thought either of them were near and certainly not Justin.
One never knows. In the deepest chambers of the soul we only can understand our path, our destiny, our lives, and our deaths. Some seem to understand themselves, others ignore. Others misinterpret, and others walk a path of full knowledge all their days. Most interestingly, it seems no mortal really knows what battles are being fought in our lives. Whether they be in the mind or the body they are being fought. Some lose now, some lose later. All will die.
The only ray of hope in all this is that we are only in a temporary state. Death for all is only temporary. More importantly, the struggles in our souls are also only temporary. The day will come when all will know as they are known and see as they are seen. Then will we all rejoice in this great probationary game. There will of course be some sorrow, but the overwhelming feeling will be one of joy and praise.
Until then, the ships keep coming and going and we watch with sadness and delight.