The Years in Front of Us

My grandfather is known for many things–the summer days fishing on the ocean, the cars he fixed, the funny songs he sang to his grandkids, the poems he’d recite to anyone who’d listen, and the sayings he quipped throughout his life: “The early morning has gold in its mouth,” and “I have more years behind me than I have in front of me.”

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Tonight, my sweet, kind grandfather has only hours in front of him. Right now he sleeps an unconscious sleep, his body carrying out the process of dying. It requires neither food nor drink, only rest. Only the effort of taking in oxygen and distributing it as best it can.

 

It is a natural process, one the body is designed and destined to follow. We are powerless over it, none of us immune to it.

 

But it is painful to watch a loved one go through it. It feels wrong, disturbing. Its reality crashes into the ordinariness of life, reminding us that we are fragile, delicate, formed from dust. What are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings, that you should care for them? the psalmist asks God (Psalm 8:4).

 

Yet, He does. He cares, He sees, He loves. He loves the ones grieving, and He loves the one He is preparing to gently carry home. Even now, His life breathes into my grandfather’s spirit. He has safely preserved it to last beyond this day, this life.

 

Because the truth is, my grandfather has more years in front of him than he has behind him. He has eternity. Forever. His body is shutting down because his spirit is preparing to encounter Life itself. He is about to experience unspeakable joy—a place and a state incomprehensible for those of us left behind as Jesus’ disciples were, gazing into the heavens in wonder. We can’t imagine what awaits us. But soon, my grandfather will know. He will awake to a dawn with the purest and brightest of gold in its mouth.

 

All of heaven, including my mother, will welcome him home—will welcome her father home.

 

 

 

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