Reformation Lutheran Church A Congregation of the ELCA

Thursday, March 30

Coming Together

When I was 13, my grandfather was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It ravaged his body. He lost a massive amount of weight, contracted jaundice and lost the ability to eat. The cancer was unmerciful - it took his life.

The events of the day my grandfather died are burned into my memory. After more than 20 years, I can still vividly recall many minute aspects. I remember walking into my grandparentsí house, already occupied by many of my grandmotherís siblings. One of my great-aunts was busying herself by making a cake (I can only presume as a way to occupy her mind).

I remember my grandfather falling in his bedroom and my parents rushing to help him onto his bed. I recall my grandmother wrapping her arms around his neck and, through tears, telling him he could let go. And, with this permission, my grandfather surrendered to death. I have run through these memories many times. They seem as fresh today as when they occurred.

While the memories remain strong, my interpretation of them has changed with age. At the time, all I could see was sadness - my sadness at losing a grandfather, my grandmotherís sadness at losing a husband, and my motherís sadness at losing her dad. There were so many tears.

But now, as I look back, I can see something else. Love - the love between family members. We grieved the death of my grandfather. We grieved his loss, because we each loved him so much. But in our grief, we leaned on each other. We hugged, cried, shared stories and comforted each other. We showered love on one another.

From this perspective, the memory reminds me of Paulís letter to the Corinthians. ďSo now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest is love.Ē (1 Cor. 13:13.) Love is greatest, in my mind, because it brings people together. Through it, we show compassion and empathy to one another. Simply put, when we act through love, we emulate the example of Jesus Christ.

The fact that family grew closer following the sadness of death is one of Godís mysteries. He took a horrible experience and used it as an opportunity for his people to act with pure love. I think my grandfather would be happy his death led to such a wonderful outpouring of unconditional love and support.

Dallas Rakestraw

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