Many people hold their 21st birthday, in very high regards. Turning 21, means that a person is now considered an adult, at least, in the United States. They can buy liquor, drink legally, and are socially considered to be no longer dependent on their parent. This Wednesday, September 22nd, the first day of Fall, I will celebrate the 21st Anniversary of my son’s death. He didn’t make it to his 21st birthday. He died at the age of 18 from injuries sustained in a car accident.
When he received congratulations at his high school graduation, many people would say, “you have your whole life ahead of you.” One thing for sure, when you hear this, it was usually being said by someone much older. It was their way of saying he had a long life ahead.
What do you consider a long life? What do you consider old? If you are 17, and you die at 18, then at 17, you are old. If you are 21, and you die at 71, then you are relatively young because you still have 50 years to live your life.
Psalm 90:12 reads, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Meaning that time is fleeting, and life is uncertain. Therefore, it’s important to value the moment and days God has given us. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. So, we should dedicate today and every day to the Lord. We must use time wisely and with purpose, one day at a time.
Death will come to all of us. There is no escaping it. It has a way of reminding you that you are not in charge. Death is the ultimate teacher. Often, it happens unexpectedly, like a pop quiz, it’s happening ready or not.
There are four things death has taught me about life.
Fair – I use to believe that being fair was when the playing field is level, and everybody involved in the game (of life), has an equal opportunity. At least, this is what I thought before death paid a visit. Death may be a little too fair. Death has no respect, of person. It doesn’t care if you’re young or old, black or white, rich or poor. It doesn’t care if you are ready or not, good or bad. Death happens to everyone, and this makes death fair.
Forgetting – It’s hard to watch the world continue for everyone else when you experience the loss of someone who was a big part of your life, or maybe they were a small piece. They mattered. Now you are left to fill a huge hole, and nothing is the same. Family and friends stop talking about him. Everyone went back to their normal life and acted the same way they did before he died. So, to me, it was as if they had forgotten about him. I lived in a totally, different world. I thought of him all the time, at the grocery store, watching television, and listening to music. Everything reminded me of him, food and clothing. I found myself consumed by his absence. It didn’t mean they had forgotten or loved him any less. It means life goes on, and people are occupied, with matters, of their own life, which is the natural course of life.
Forgiveness – I received unexpected call midweek from my son, Willie, who was away at college. I picked up the receiver. “Hello, this is Rachelle.” The voice on the other end said, “Hey, Momma.” That low voice was normal, but there was urgency in it, which concerned me. I asked, “How are you doing? What’s up?” He said, “I forgive Daddy.” His statement took me aback. Willie continued to talk, “I forgive Daddy for not coming to my games.” I didn’t interrupt him. I could tell how much he wanted to get it off his chest. He paused. I asked, “Are you okay?” He said, “Yes, I’m okay.” I wished I could be there with him. If only to wrap my arms around him to tell him I understood. He said, “I’m heading to football practice. I’ll talk to you later.” The night my son’s father arrived at my brother’s doorstep, after my son’s death, I knew the unexpected call, earlier that week, was for me to forgive his father. (Excerpt -from My Whisper from God)
Final – Face it: Death is final, or is it a transition? That depends on who you ask. For me, it is a transition. Death is only the beginning of a process that ends in eternal life.
Life is truly a gift. Often, we treat it like an obstacle. We are in a rush to get through with it. (e.g., “Isn’t it the end of the week yet?” “I just need to get through this day…”) Death will come, like the thief it is, and it will remind us that life is precious, short-lived, and not to be taken for granted or resented. A daily practice of gratitude is a great way to align your awareness to this awesome gift. Regardless of how many years we receive, 18 or 71, cherish your time as the gift it is.