Death and Other Cliches

click picture to go to the site where I blatantly stole this

It’s been a long, hard, fun, crazy, tragic, inspiring, uplifting and strange couple of days. Mostly just long.

Thursday:
Full day of Work
2.5 drive to STL
Stood (sat) in line for four hours to see Harry Potter VII (part one) at midnight with Megan and her friends. Looking around at the people in line, it was like I’d stepped into a slightly more co-ed ComicCon. Just a bunch of walking, talking, costumed, cliched (and happy) Muggles.

NERDS!


Friday:

Got back from the movie at 3 a.m.
Woke up at 7:30 and realized that my clothes I needed for my trustees meeting/banquet in Hannibal were sitting in my bag in Jefferson City
Drove the 2.5 hours back to Jefferson City
Took a 90-minute nap before driving the two hours to Hannibal for the 4:00 Hannibal-LaGrange University trustees meeting. FYI, tuition is going up 6 percent.
Had absolutely  the worst chicken cordon bleu mankind has ever had the stones to call “food”

My chicken cordon bleu

Heard Kirk Cameron give a surprisingly good and entertaining testimony of how Jesus has changed his life.   Still, as much as I liked him, he is still the cliched grown-up child actor. The banquet itself went
a little long, so I didn’t get home until 12:30 a.m. Saturday.

Saturday:
Hung out with Megan all day, and began preparations for our early Thanksgiving feast. (We brined the turkey!)

Sunday:
Popped Gobbles into the oven, then went to church

To use another cliche, it's golden brown and delicious!

Raced back to finish preparing the dressing (Megan made a delicious cheesy corny bread thing, as well as gravy that rivaled any I’ve ever tasted.)

Not too shabby a plate, if I do say so myself.

Hosted 12 friends for Friend Thanksgiving. It was a blast, but I don’t know how Grandma’s across the nation do it each and every year. They’re insane. Next year, everyone get’s frozen turkey dinners.
(Sort of) did the dishes and cleaned up.

Andree
In the midst of all that, I got a call Friday while I was in Hannibal that Andree, my office’s ministry assistant (secretary) died in a horrific car crash that afternoon. Her funeral is tomorrow and I’m to be one of the pall bearers. I realize it might be a little odd to work in a little bit about her into a post that begins by talking about bland and tasteless chicken cordon bleu, but complaining about dry entrees is the form my grief is taking. Let me just say that yes, her life does deserve more than these few paragraphs on a typo-ridden blog where the most interesting post in the past few months was a love poem to Ketchup.

Death is a really strange thing, you know? We’re so unused to it, and yet it’s just about the most common thing in all of man kind. Whenever we’re faced with hard realties, we usually retreat to cliches: “She’s in a better place,” “At least she didn’t suffer” and “she’s praising Jesus in Heaven now.” Someone around here mentioned that this would be a really hard Thanksgiving for her family, and other co-worker said “She’s going to have the best Thanksgiving of all.” All I could think was that I hope God serves gravy with his turkey and dressing.

But you know what? It’s not a cliche if it’s true. Andree truly is in a better place. She’s in Heaven, praising in person the Lord and savior she served here on Earth. And yeah, it actually is comforting that she didn’t have suffer a long and drawn out disease. I don’t know if God serves dinner in Heaven, but Andree probably doesn’t care.

My heart breaks for her family. Even thought it’s a temporary loss and this life is merely the blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things, it’s still a huge loss.

Andree was very good at her job. She was like a paper work assassin. She did the things around the office that nobody else wanted to do. After the initial shock of the phone call wore off, my first (extremely selfish) thought was, “how on earth is our office going to function?” For now, her phone calls are being forwarded to me and it’s already just about more than I can handle! The other ministry assistants here in the building are all pitching in, but it’s going to be a bear of a job. Again with the cliched truth, she left awfully big shoes to fill.

This was about two weeks ago in Springfield at our annual meeting

In an office dominated by three  men who think they know everything, she had a very quiet way of sitting in the corner and listening while we all argued, then swooping in at the last minute and straitening us out. She simplified things we tried to make way too hard.

I have very limited experience with death. My step-grandfather died in 2008 and aside from two friends in high school, that’s it. I never really thought of myself as to terribly close to Andree, but I admit it chocked me up quite a bit to walk into the office and see her desk empty, or to open my e-mail and see messages she sent before she left work Friday afternoon. It’s going to be strange to drive on the road where she died on the way to the funeral. I thankful for friends at HLG who comforted me and prayed with me upon hearing the news. A fellow reporter there even offered to do my work for me. Even our newspaper’s “arch rival” reporter was very comforting and prayed for me and for Andree’s family.

Speaking of her family, I ask you to pray for them. I’ve only met Andree’s husband once, but I get the feeling that she kept her family in line the way she kept the office in line. If we miss her, their Andree-shaped hole going to be 1000x bigger.

I’m going finish up with another cliche. One of man-kind greatest questions – especially from people struggling to come to grips with an evil world co-existing with a good and perfect Heavenly Father – is “why do bad things happen to good people” (the fancy, seminary word for this is “theodicy”). This cliche could certainly be asked of Andree. Not only was she the “salt of the earth” and “good” by our earthly standards, she was a fine, fine Christian woman. (Although it should be pointed out that the easy answer to this is that there is no such things as a “good” person by God’s standard.)

This is the central question of the Book of Job and Jesus Himself is asked this question in Luke Chapter 13. The people ask Jesus about two sets of people. Both they perceived as being “good.” The former, seditious group was killed by a corrupt politician, the latter were innocents who perished when a tower collapsed. ‘What’s up with that?’ people asked. Jesus answered them, but not the way they wanted.

“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

He didn’t beat around the bush: He basically said we’re all sinners, and concepts like life, death and “fairness” are so far beyond our understanding that it’s an invalid question. We can’t earn life on earth even more than we can earn our eternal life. Instead of dwelling on the whys and hows of life’s heartaches, Jesus tells us to repent, because we all deserve death and no one knows when our appointment with eternity will be.

When a Christian dies, funerals are still sad. But there’s a distinct difference in that despite the tears, exhaustion and feeling of emptiness in the pit of a stomach, there’s an undercurrent of hope and celebration that this is not the end and there will be a reunion in Heaven. I’ve never heard Andree’s pastor preach, but I’d bet a lot of money that he’s going to say something to the effect of:

We gather here today not to mourn the death of our dear friend, but to celebrate her life and the fact that she is in Heaven this very moment praising her Savior.

There will most likely be an invitation, a moment where people have the opportunity to take Jesus up on His offer to repent, accept Him as their Savior and serve Him as their Lord.

It sounds cliche, but that’s how Andree would have wanted it.

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2 responses to “Death and Other Cliches

  1. Brenda Raczynski

    You are a wonderful writer… HEY, maybe you should be a journalist! Thanks for the story of your co-worker. It makes me realize that we cannot take people for granted.

  2. I love this post. You make some amazing points. I never thought about Death in some of the ways you posted here. Thanks for this post and I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving (the turkey looked delicious!).

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