Yesterday was a tough day for me. November 3 always is. This was the 27th Anniversary of the death of my beloved mother, Marjorie Vivien Krause. I was 33 years old. Yesterday, I was talking with a friend about this, and she said, “I just turned 33!” Yes, and go hug your mother while you can.
I want to say that was the most horrible day of my life, but it didn’t get any better the next day. Many well-meaning friends gave me advice that stuck with me. One said, “What are painful moments now will turn into loving memories later.” Well, I appreciate that, but it’s still pretty painful.
Another friend said, “You don’t get over this, you just learn how to live with it.” That is closer to what I experienced, and I have used that line many times as a pastor. I don’t know that this emotional wound ever heals. It scabs over and you learn how to cope. But I have never “gotten over” my mother’s sudden death. I’m not sure I want to.
Ironically, yesterday I was writing a lesson on a story from Acts 9 about the death of a woman named Tabitha. Her Greek name was Dorcas, and both names are the same as our English word “gazelle,” the tiny, graceful antelope that was native to Palestine at that time. Dorcas’s death seems very sudden in the story. In one of the most poignant scenes in all the Bible, the poor widows of her church gather around her dead body wearing the clothes Dorcas had made and given to them. Their weeping is uncontrolled, I imagine. She wasn’t just their charitable clothes supplier. She was their dear friend. She was their leader. She was their hero.
The story in Acts has a happy ending, for Peter is summoned and a with marvelous display of God’s power, he raises Dorcas from death. But we know in our hearts she died again later. Maybe they were more ready for it the second time.
My mother at one time wanted to be a fashion designer. I have a framed picture in my house of a design she did as a final project in college. It is of a fashionable woman from the 1940s wearing a simple but blousey dress. Whenever I look at that picture, I think of her. Simple but stylish. Bold but subdued. Smart but humble.
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more;
Death, thou shalt die.
Donne draws on the promise found in Revelation 20:14:
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.
This is what I hold on to on my November 3rds. Death does not destroy eternity. Death and its pain will be ended some day. There will be no more need for Hades, the realm of the dead. We will live again. I will live again. My mother lives again. And some day, I will be able to see her again. I do not know how non-believers cope with death without this hope. I’m glad I don’t have to.
Nebraska Christian College