I’m sorry if I have led you here in the hopes of reading a well-crafted story, only to meet what will perhaps be one of the most depressing things you will read today. I have a couple of things I want to get off my chest and writing can be therapeutic so I apologize to those who expected gunfights or zombie hordes or psychic demons. This is important.
Recently, I received news that one of my classmates from my university days had passed on. While we weren’t best of friends, we were really cool, and Lord knows how many minutes I spent teasing her every day. The first image I see when I remember her, and it’s the same for almost all my memories of her, is her smile. Gosh, she was always laughing, at the hilarious jokes and the downright nonsense ones. At least that was what I saw.
Truth be told, I wasn’t sure how to react when a friend broke the news to me. From the tone of her voice, I already knew what she was going to say, but Lord knows I hoped against hope that she was going to say the opposite, or something along the lines of hospitalization as opposed to a message of death; especially the death of someone who we schooled together for four years. The news left me unsettled; logic overrode emotions but logic does not account for the void you feel and can’t explain. I ended up surfing through our class pictures from our first year to our last year and I just could not process the fact that a living, talking, breathing being would no longer do all of those things.
I can only imagine how hard it is for her family and closest friends, and frankly, I’m not writing this piece to provide steps on how to grieve properly, or provide some deep insight into the higher purpose of God and how such terrible news can be good for someone else whether now or in future. This piece is simply to grieve with those who are grieving. A beautiful gem has been lost and words cannot express the sorrow we feel.
However, during a conversation I had with a friend about her some days back, I suddenly realized something striking. We grieve because we have lost someone, but it will not consume us because of the hope that we have; the hope of glory. We grieve because we will never see her smile or laugh again in this world but we are comforted in knowing that she’s smiling down at us and cheering us on in this rat race called life. We celebrate in our grief because we know she has gone to a better place, a greater place where the tendrils of death cannot reach her again. In this knowledge, we celebrate, with tears flowing freely. We celebrate despite the ache in our hearts and the hurt. We celebrate because the devil dealt his strongest card and it was not enough to crush us. Physically, yes she is gone, as a matter of fact, but she will live on in our hearts and in Heaven. And as long as she is alive somewhere, it is a victory for us.
I heard that she left us singing Glorious Ruins by Hillsong and I was comforted. In her last moments, by requesting the song, she summed up the totality of our fragile human life, our insubstantial humanity; glorious ruins. This body of ours, glorious and majestic, subject of our attention and worship is a ruin because it is forever heading towards decay, no matter what we try. Our bodies are a glorious ruin and for that reason, we will draw strength from the promise of a better body, a glorified body, a resurrected body. Marybelle is right now indestructible, far out of the reach of decay, she has been transformed. We as well must transform our sorrow and grief. We may miss her, and we may cry, but we must not cry because we assume that we have lost her permanently because we really haven’t. We must take it out of the realms of sorrow for loss and recognize that we will see her again. We must celebrate the life that she lived and challenge ourselves to be better.
And to you Marybelle, rest in peace. We will meet again, never to be separated in Paradise, in the New Jerusalem, our Father’s house. We will hear you laugh, and we will worship together. We will bask in His light, and we will never be sad anymore.
We love you AND Jesus loves you more…
“…In this world, you will have troubles. But take heart! I have overcome the world…”
When the mountains fall
And the tempest roars, You are with me
When creation folds
Still my soul will soar on Your mercy
I’ll walk through the fire
With my head lifted high
And my spirit revived in Your story
And I’ll look to the cross
As my failure is lost
In the light of Your glorious grace
Let the ruins come to life
In the beauty of Your Name
Rising up from the ashes
God forever You reign
And my soul will find refuge
In the shadow of Your wings
I will love You forever
And forever I’ll sing
When the world caves in
Still my hope will cling to Your promise
Where my courage ends
Let my heart find strength in Your presence