By: Katherine S. Charapich, Esq.
Law Office of Katherine S. Charapich, Esq., PLLC
Office # 540-812-2046
"I wish you could have met him." How many times have you wished that a new friend, a child, or a spouse, could have met your parent, your grandparent, your mentor, your loved one - who has now passed?
I remember a friend, who was in her mid-twenties, sharing that when her father passed away, she realized the finality - that when she met her future spouse, he would never have met her father. She felt as if relationships henceforth would be less than complete without such understanding.
As an estate planning attorney, I have many clients who have expressed such a feeling in relation to their spouse. There is a completeness that comes with the familiarity of almost a lifetime of shared time experiences, a safe zone of acceptance and unconditional love, an assuredness that there is another who understands you intrinsically. How does one continue when life shifts and one is left? How does one describe to others who they are when they are minus the sum?
I admit to being frequently brought to my knees following a meeting with a client who is now finding, or soon to face, his or her way in our world without a trusted soul mate alongside. The poignancy of a spouse seeing his bride of 50 plus years struggle with an illness and become so weak that she begins to succumb to the battle is beyond words. These are the times that test one's faith.
Recently, I lost a dear friend, who was an older adult. Many an eve during long summer days, we would visit for what seemed like hours. Her husband had passed away many years ago, and she would speak with such fondness of him, of his humor, and their love. To share her other confidences would be a breach of precious moments. But, what I will share is that I witnessed my friend grow old with grace. She was lonely, but she made adjustments. She would attend dinner at the club - we would discuss which black dress, pearls, and brooch, she would select, she accompanied a favorite neighbor to grand porch parties and holiday events, and she loved on her children and grandchildren - her source of pride. My friend reached out to those around her. She was the one who would hang loaves of bread on my front door knob when I was transitioning between jobs years ago. She kept tabs on my son when he played on the outdoor basketball court. She was a great encouragement during my law school years, though she said, "I just hope I am here when you get back." I miss her. The world is not the same. However, on the day of my friend's passing, through my tears, I heard my husband wisely share, "This is the happiest day she has had in a long time. She is reunited with her husband." I smiled, finding a glimmer of peace.
The concept of death and what it means is one with which I wrestle. Almost daily, I help others prepare for that threshold moment. There is a profound line in a prayer from the book, "The Valley of Vision" - Puritan Prayers and Devotions, which reaches to the core of understanding. "And, if thou bidst me decide for myself in any affair, I would choose to refer all to thee, for thou art infinitely wise and cannot do amiss, as I am in danger of doing. I rejoice to think that all things are at thy disposal, and it delights me to leave them there."
As Nicole Mullen sings in her song, My Redeemer Lives, "I know that, I know that, I know that, I know that, I know - I know my Redeemer lives. Because He lives I can face tomorrow. He lives, I know, I know, I know. He lives. I spoke with Him this morning."
Therein lies the Comfort. Therein lies the Promise. We can plan for life and death through estate planning documents, such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and advance medical directives - and all should do so - however, perhaps true planning is to know God, to let your life - and the lives of your loved ones - be at His disposal, and to delight in His Plan.
As a generality, we prepare for most other major events in life. We plan for proms, for driving, for marriage, for work, for children - all wonderful - all finite. How prepared are we for that true threshold moment, the one that transitions us from life-to death-to eternity? I put forth that death is just that, a threshold moment, a transition point. However, unlike the other monumental moments of our lives for which we plan . . . and plan . . . and plan, and which are not certain - death is a certainty.
Think about what you consider the most important moments of your life and how you planned for those moments. Perhaps it was the day you graduated, the day you got married, the day you received a promotion, or the day you met your child or grandchild. Frequently, we are ready for those moments because we have prepared, we have laid solid foundations.
Around my conference table daily witness is borne to the preparations taking place for the threshold moment - the very human walks of faith, the tears, the questions, the loneliness, the guilt, the anger, and hopefully the Hope promised.
Hebrews 11.1 (KJV) tells us, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." John 20:29 (NIV) states, "Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
Perhaps what Jesus shared with Thomas, is similar to the concept of how we feel about a loved one who is no longer with us. "I wish that you could have known him." The difference is, that what Jesus was referencing affects our life as well as the threshold moment, and you can know Him.
Dr. S. M. Lockridge shares the Promise so well in his sermon, "That's My King."
" . . . Do you know Him?
He's the greatest phenomenon that has ever crossed the horizon of this world.
He's God's Son.
He's a sinner's Savior.
He's the centerpiece of civilization.
He stands in the solitude of Himself.
He's august and He's unique.
He's unprecedented. . ."
Grappling with the unprecedented life shift of losing a loved one or personally reaching that threshold moment, seemingly cannot be met, survived, or understood without the completeness of the One who cannot do amiss.