Death a mystery
By Leila Koepp
“Death has awakened something within me that takes me out of common places into the lure of the” unknown””. I read this quote somewhere, but I do not know who wrote it.
I tried to look up the definition of death and several synonyms were given such as demise, decease, fate, doom and passing. One definition was “a permanent cessation of vital functions”. A quote from another source was “one of the problems of defining death is in distinguishing it from life”. As a biologist I have not been able to define life either. We can describe the characteristics of living things but not what life is except to say that it is the absence of death. Life and death are therefore inseparable and both are mysterious. Death cannot be explained. In trying to figure it out I have discovered many truths that no one knows about.
There is no solution to death, no quick fix and yet people think that they can fix my pain with explanations and unsolicited remarks. There are no satisfactory answers. There is a challenge to go on living when there are no answers.
I went to the funeral of a 20 year old son recently for the sake of his mother who teaches at my college. My heart went out to her. He was sleeping. As I see death in the face at what seems to be a higher frequency, it seems less intimidating to me. I actually have no fear of death any longer. Yet the mystery of death is like a sharp knife that keeps cutting me up. Before David died I had him. Now I do not have him. It is beyond my imagination that he is gone. Where is he? What a mystery!
Why is it that I anguish daily? My beautiful son is gone forever. Death is humbling. Death is the lowest state of our weakness and vulnerability. In Ecclesiastes 9:4 we read: “…for a living dog is better than a dead lion”. To be buried out of sight is the greatest defeat. At the same time, the awful presence of death makes a mockery of us especially when we hoard and cling to things that are temporal and that we make such a fuss about.
I often think about the men of faith in the Bible who died. Their death does not make any sense to me. Think of John the Baptist who was the forerunner of Christ. He was put in jail due to his faithfulness in preaching the truth. He was then beheaded. Is it possible that God would use a person and then let him be beheaded? He allowed Simon Peter, the great apostle, to be crucified upside down. Paul the Apostle was executed. Why do things happen like that? God lets it happen for His purposes which we cannot understand while on this earth. I do not understand why God permitted David to die, but I can thank him for David’s life though short it was.
Because David died I am not moved or upset by what happens to me as before. It seems that nothing can disturb me like before. Everything in my life and experience that could be shaken had been shaken. I no longer count my life or any of life’s possessions as dear to me as before. I feel that God is in the midst of my soul, though calamities continue to come about. There is a constant calm within and a peace that was not there before. Yet my soul continues to go on sorrowing for my precious son. I MISS him deeply beyond description and I ache for him. I am not sure if this makes any sense.
Death is the door to true life. The dying of Jesus made the way for us through the grave. In John 11:25 we read what Jesus said: “I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live”. Dying is when we truly begin to live forever. David’s exit is the end of his physical presence on earth and his entrance into immortality. Heaven is a secret and continues to be a secret. I cannot understand death, but I began to know a little more about it when I lost David. I realized that death is a natural thing. It is like passing through a dark tunnel and arriving where light shines forever and where joy reigns.