"I thank my God every time I remember you." - Philippians 1: 3-11
When we remember people who have died, simple things remind us of them -- a smell, a song, a flower, the gathering of family and friends. And we remember them. . . .
Sometimes their memory breaks in on us like an intruder, without ample time for us to prepare and brace ourselves. And so, we cry. We miss them. At other times we laugh. Either way, it is a good thing to not hold back. Experience your range of emotions but do not stop there. Give God thanks for having had them in your life. Acknowledge their presence as a gift from God; this will always put your heart in the right place.
Sometimes, we are like children who want more ice cream. "We did not have them long enough," we say. And that is always true of those we love most dearly – especially those who had, from our perspectives, untimely deaths. Let us instead give thanks that we had them, remembering, we have them still. They were never our possessions. They were companions God placed into our life's journey . . . for a while. Best of all, they surround us now, so many as to be like the stars of the Milky Way, a cloud, all witnesses to love, faithfulness, to the hope and mystery that we shall see them . . . again.
Gracious God, Sometimes I miss them so much I cannot seem to bear it. Still, I thank you for placing such a great person in my life. I remember her perfume, his crazy laugh, the way he looked at me that let me know I was loved, for the great things she accomplished, for the things we saw together. Thank you for these special lives and times, and for ways they helped shape me to be the person I am today. Give them blessed rest and peace and confidence in knowing they left us well and continuing on with life until we meet them again. Amen.
Ron Buford is the former coordinator of the UCC's God is still speaking campaign and appears in the DVD-based progressive theology series, Living the Questions 2.0.