The gift of remembrance

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’” Revelation 21:3-4

Each year when October comes around, Mom and I reflect on the fact that three of my four grandparents died during the last week of the month, in different years – 1965, 1966 and 1974 to be exact. Many years have passed, but I know my mom, now in her early 80’s, still misses her parents. Likewise, there are days when I long to talk to Ray, though it’s been 17 years since I last held his hand and shared the details of my day with him. And then I have several friends who are in the early stages of grief, having lost their much-loved spouses within the past few months. I assure them it will get better, that the pain won’t always be so raw, but I also tell them they won’t ever “get over” the loss. There will always be a tender spot, a place only the beloved can fill. Yet, would we want it any other way?

And so, to all those who are missing someone dear, no matter how long the separation has been, I offer up this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It eloquently describes how precious the memories are that link us to our departed loved ones until the day when we’re finally reunited:

“Nothing can make up for the absence of someone we love . . . it is nonsense to say that God fills the gap; God doesn’t fill it, but on the contrary, God keeps it empty and so helps us keep alive our former communion with each other, even at the cost of pain . . . the dearer and richer the memories, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude changes the pangs of memory into tranquil joy. The beauties of the past are borne, not as a thorn in the flesh, but as a precious gift in themselves.”


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