It just doesn’t seem fair…this whole death thing. It doesn’t have favorites. It isn’t particular to a group or even an age. Death comes and takes those we hold so dear right from our arms…even as we cling to them trying to hold on…to their very last breath. I read about a 16 year old that breathed her last breath after a brave fight with cancer. I can’t help but think how unfair that is. I think of a couple who recently lost a newborn…he didn’t have a chance to make his mark on the world. I think of people around the world that are starving and thirsting to death…young people who deserve to live just as much as anyone else. It just seems so harsh, cruel, and unfair. And, honestly, it hurts.
It is true that the sting is a little more noticeable this week than usual. My Grandpa passed away almost one week ago. He had lived what we consider a long life. He had lived life well. He was a wonderful example of a man that loved God and loved his family. Personally, for me, he is an even better example because he didn’t pretend to be perfect. He knew he didn’t always get it right. But, he did the best that he knew how…and as it turns out…he did some pretty incredible things. He loved others…he cared for others…he shared his gifts…he did what he was called to do. And, he was okay with breathing that last breath. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t mean I was ready for him to go. But it at least seems to make some sense in my small, finite, time bound mind.
So, I hold all these things in perspective. A young lady who experienced 16 years on this earth…an older man who experienced almost 88. Both have breathed their last breath. Life as we know it has left them. As I looked at my Grandpa after he breathed his last, his body changed. His body changed because the very life that God had breathed into him was now gone.
This reminds me that God is still breathing life into me. He is still breathing life into you. As long as God is providing life to us…as long as we continue to breathe…we have a life to live. I’m not talking about a sentimental hallmark card moment with fields and flowers and a theme of “Go live your life…” I’m talking about taking a moment to feel your breath and realize that you are given this breath so that you truly experience life.
How many of us have breath…but we are not experiencing life? How many of us go through our day…the same old patterns…the same work…the same scenery and miss the life we are to experience? How many times do we miss a sunrise or not hear the birds that sing? How many times do we fail to tell someone we love them with the idea that they will be here tomorrow? How many times do we dread our day or resent having to get up in the morning…AND YET WE HAVE BREATH…
I am jolted awake with a reminder to live life…to appreciate the gift of breath…the opportunity to live…the joy of a new sunrise…the beauty of a day…the song of a bird…and even the struggles. For there will come a day when my breath will be no more. I will value the gift until then.