Recently we sat with a dear brother and kept watch with his family and friends as he walked the narrow road from this life to the next. We listened to sacred breaths. The curtain between this world and the other so thin, blowing gently in the silence. Time has run out and we could not make it stay no matter how much we grasped.
We sat by his side as words were whispered. Final goodbyes, last memories from those shouldering the burden as much as possible until the very end. The weight of loss was heavy.
And then 24 hours later I sat at a wedding where a triumphant drummer followed the bride and groom into the reception. The crowd danced for a solid 15 minutes, celebrating the union. The groom turned his bride and her beauty was radiant for all to see. The attendants and guests cheered.
It reminded me of another wedding I attended a few years ago where the groom let out an exultant shout as the bride walked down the aisle. He cheered with absolute, pure joy.
One day of death.
And the next, life.
One day of darkness followed by a triumphant procession of a bride and groom, dancing, cheering, and their love new. The kind you can’t seem to look away from as they see only one another. The contrast was almost shocking to my heart. Like a defibrillator to my soul, a jolt of that promise which comes in the wake of agonizing defeat and loss.
He is coming.
Death is a bitter drink. One we all must swallow. We grieve at bedsides and empty beds, asking hard questions that might go unanswered for our lifetimes. And while we may have all of the best theological answers, nothing seems to make right the weeping of a widow or the cries of those left behind. How do we even dare give a platitude when there is a gaping hole where a living, breathing life once stood, laughed, danced, and lived?
But not far off, a distance drum rumbles. Not far off, a groom prepares. Not far off, a wedding is prepared for a bride who is stained, bruised, exhausted, and bereaved. A feast is prepared for the ones whose tears were their bread.
Our life will be filled with funerals, eventually culminating in our own. One we cannot escape, avoid, put off, or regret to attend.
And the drum rumbles. A day is coming to end all funerals, no more whispered goodbyes at bedsides, no more silence of breaths that are ragged and worn.
One day, the groom will come and we will weep no more. One final wedding. One triumphant procession of a King who defeated death and won his bride with his own blood, who wept over her grief, and wipes the tears from her eyes forever.