We all know we will die. And all of us, in different ways, know the deep grief we experience when someone we love dies. Their absence rends a hole in the fabric of our lives. And into this hole comes the darkness of doubts. Do I really believe in the resurrection? Do I really believe that this life is not all there is?
I know something about those doubts.
My son Tobe (pronounced “Tobey”) died of cancer when he was 34 years old. The cancer was stage four when it was discovered. Although he died well – living intensely and courageously the last eleven months of his life – when he died, I grieved. He had invited me in to be with him on his last journey, and I was with him in the hospital when his oncologist said to him, “Tobe, there is nothing more we can do for you. We are going to send you home with enough pain relievers to keep you comfortable for the next three or four days of your life.”
The doctor left the room, and my former husband, his wife, my daughter, and Tobe’s girlfriend all went into the hallway, to sob and to comfort one another. This was the day we were expecting but did not want to come.
I stayed at Tobe’s bedside and took his hand. “Are you afraid?” I asked him.
He gestured with his fingers that he was about half an inch afraid.
And then I heard myself say to him, “Tobe, you have absolutely nothing to be afraid of.” I wondered where those words came from, and then I knew.
He died at his home, three days later, in the arms of the woman who loved him.
After the memorial service I was left with silence and a deep ache in my heart.
One night, just before falling asleep, I thought about Tobe.
And in my mind I said, “Tobe, where are you? Are you okay?”
And then it was that I heard his voice, his very familiar voice, answering me, saying, “Mother, what did you tell me?
“Tobe,” I said, “I know what I told you. But I just want to know. Are you okay?”
And the voice of Tobe came again, saying only one chiding word: “Mother….”
And I knew in my heart he was okay.
I don’t know what “okay” means, but I know how it felt to hear it. He was alive in some way, and he was okay!
If I did not know the Easter story, I never would have believed that dream – or whatever it was. But because of God raising Jesus, I believe that death is not the end for us. As the hymn written by the Gaithers says, “Because he lives, I can face tomorrow.” Because I believe Jesus lives, I believe all whom God loves will live also – and that God loves all of us, no matter what!
May your Easter be blessed with joy and blessed assurance.