A Final Withdrawal
October 8, 2007 3 Comments
I had the painful responsibility this past weekend of seeking to support my teen-aged sons through the unexpected death of one of their friends.
This young man, only 18 years of age, began experiencing curious vision problems a couple of weeks ago. Quickly, he was diagnosed with a tumor behind his eye. The diagnosis and prognosis were uncertain, but the doctors needed to put him into a medically-induced coma in order to deal with the swelling in his brain.
He never woke up.
The loss of this young man was devastating to his friends, most of whom, at their age, had never yet had to deal with such a sudden withdrawal from their account. In the initial shock, the hole left behind, the painful flood of memories, seem like they will never end. But, eventually, time and necessity help us to cope and move forward.
A few months ago, a friend about my age had a sudden heart attack while driving his car – no warning – and departed this life almost instantly. And some years ago, a dear friend in a faraway state suddenly had an aneurysm burst in her brain, and she was gone…no preparation, no good-byes, only that large hole from the final withdrawal.
But why was that hole there? Only because these friends made deposits over the years – deposits of love, friendship, kindness, and a positive example. They contributed much, such that when their account suddenly closed, their funeral services were packed with grateful mourners. People who had received deposits. People who had been touched. People who would not forget.
When we feel the pain of loss, it is almost instinctive to withdraw. To try to avoid feeling such pain again. But that is the time to continue to make deposits. To come alongside. To show up. And, in fact, it is a reminder that we are to continuously live that way. We never know when our last deposit will be made. We may not even have a chance to say good-bye to loved ones. But if we have loved, and been loved, then the sorrow of the parting will be lessened by the remembrance of what was given.
How gratifying it has been to see my boys, in the midst of their own sorrow, seek to comfort others (their relationship skills, I freely confess, are light years ahead of what mine were at that age). None of us is going to escape pain, sorrow, or death. But we can continue to invest, continue to make deposits, continue to love, in spite of it.