"The human life is like that of a flower: it blooms and is beautiful for a time, but inevitably fades and withers away. By contrast, God is eternal and will never die or fade away. " 1 Peter 1:23-25
Yesterday the cycling world heard the news of the death of a pro cyclist competing in a large stage race, the Giro d'Italia. During a fast descent on one of the road stages, Wouter Weylandt crashed at speed and died from his injuries. I did not know him...never saw him race that I know of, but still we are diminished by his death, for as cyclists and fellow mortal creatures, it reminds us of the brevity of life and the uncertainty of tomorrow. We non-pros ride hard and fast too, although I never approach the stuff that those guys do. But any rock on the trail will get it done. We don't need a 50mph descent to die.
I answered the cell phone for the wife last night, then handed it off to her. It was a friend from her Jazzercise girlie group. My wife is not an emotional person, so when I heard her breath draw in, saw her face change, and heard her exclamation, I knew it was not good. A common friend's husband had been killed in an off-road accident. No details...just the news. RJ was gone. Just like that.
I had only met him a few times, so I was not really a friend, but my wife and his wife knew each other quite well. Nancy and RJ had been married nearly as long as we have...30+ years, and that is a long time to have a happy relationship with another person. A long time. I can barely imagine the loss felt by his wife. Having just celebrated 32 years of marriage, I thought of putting myself in her place. I don't like that place. It is a lonely place.
We get up each day and go about the things we do without much thought to the end of our days. It has to be that way. To be continually aware that every moment may be our last is potentially terrifying. That puts some folks behind locked doors in search of a therapist. The problem is, the therapist is just as terrified when it comes down to it. They just keep that emotion pushed down and away under a stack of textbooks. A death of someone close forces that emotion to the surface where we deal with it for a time, then push it back down again under the weight of other matters...work, play, bills, plans, expectations. It never really goes away though.
Yet, there is a blessing to that awareness of our mortality. It is a recognition of a profound and undeniable truth - that we begin to die the moment we are conceived and there is an expiration date printed on our life like a bar code. God has the code scanner and the date is non-negotiable. I have no idea what mine will scan....maybe today. I am grateful for every day, every moment, every pedal stroke, every person that enriches my life. I do not desire death, yet I do not fear it as I know God holds my breath and the breath of many that I love.
And that will have to do till then.