19 July 2013

Remembering A Kind Man

June 20th: I had a Skype chat with a Board Member of the ministry where I work. We were testing out the service before he spoke with the President and Chairman the next day. He told me of the horrible smoke in Singapore due to the fires in Indonesia. He mentioned he had had a doctor's appointment.  They said he had a couple leaky valves, but nothing for which they'd risk surgery.

He chatted for quite a while, and I had to remind myself to relax and just enjoy the conversation without worrying about work. He and his wife had tickets to fly here in about three weeks, but I rarely would have one-on-one time with him.

July 15th: Our friend had to have a triple by-pass surgery, instead of being here for the Board meeting the 16th. We found out only several days beforehand. But surgery went very well.

July 17th: Some complications started in his lungs, but nothing too alarming.

July 18th:
10:25 AM— From a co-worker: "He came out of High Dependency ward today, but his heart went into fibrillation at 6pm and his pulse rate was very high.  He was nauseous and was unable to eat and looked and felt unwell. He is back in the high dependency ward." 
5:40 PM— From his wife: "He collapsed three minutes ago. Docs have resuscitated heart but he may not make it." 
9:18 PM— From another friend: He's "with the Lord." "He didn't make it."

And minus that one breath and one heartbeat, he is gone forever as we know him.

"I will go to him, but he will not return to me."

That's it. The ceasing of a normal physical "habit" of heart and lungs, and you no longer are as we have known you. You don't just resign from the Board. You disappear.

I'm new enough with death to be haunted by it. 

Tonight, I've pulled up his last emails to me. I've thought of the time I stayed in an apartment in South Africa with him and his wife and some ladies. I remembered how patient he was when twice I blew the fuse, darkening the apartment with my high voltage devices. 

Another friend reminded me of this past March of when he had spent a day driving us around—paid for all five of us to roam through some orchid gardens in Singapore, took us to a special Chinese restaurant for lunch, and wandered for hours through the Little India shops with us. Mr. Patience. 

I pulled up Skype tonight too. It was the last place I had seen his face, while I said I looked forward to seeing him and his wife in a short amount of time. 

Skype said he was just "offline."

I wonder. Is that all death is? You're still "out there," you're merely "offline" to the rest of the world. 

Jesus called it "sleeping" before He raised a good friend, who had been four days in a tomb. Although He used the term, eyewitnesses testified to seeing Him "weep" and noted how much "He loved him." He wept minutes before He brought him back to life. Why?

Truly, I leave it to the theologians and scholars to wrestle with the reasons. I stand with the people and note: "Could not this man who opened the eyes of the blind keep this man from dying?" 

And with Martha I say in faith, that I believe there will be a resurrection of the dead. 
25Jesus said to her, "I AM the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" 
We live with it. Death. 

Death has been named the "Grim Reaper." It's pictured as a figure in black waiting to steal you away in a black horse-drawn carriage. 

Innately, we understand it's an enemy. One to whom those we love and we ourselves will almost all succumb (barring Jesus appearing to call us directly to Him).

Scripture reminds us we're like "grass that the wind blows over," and we're gone. Song writers ponder our status as "dust in the wind."
Same old song, just a drop of water in an endless sea 
All we do crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see 
Dust in the wind 
All we are is dust in the wind  
~Paul Simon and Ivana Kindl  
So what's the point?

Life is short. We know that! It's short for me, and it's way too short for those I love.

Am I living the way I want to be remembered?  Not just at my memorial service, but if they should tell my story a hundred years from now? Is it all about me or is it of use in God's greater story?

I don't have a lot of time to invest.

Nor do you.

Goodbye, Mr. Hwang. I'll look forward to seeing you at Home. Soon.

1 comment:

  1. Deeply moving! Beautifully said! Profoundly simple & simply profound! Life is a shadow, a mist that appears and then vanishes! We are a breath away from immortality. "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom" and always live for the glory of Your name." Amen!