In Catherine Marshall's book, To Live Again, she recalls a man who spoke at her husband's funeral saying,
(I've replaced her husband's name, Peter Marshall, with Lynn's name):
Let me say in a few words, and in very simple words, try to express what we are trying to do this morning. We are endeavoring to establish a new relationship. We have known [Lynn Robert Erskine] in the flesh. From now on we are to endeavor to know him in the spirit, and to know him in the spirit just as we have really known him in the flesh...
In these last several months, I felt violently stripped of my old wineskin. A snowball of loss just continued to roll into seas of sorrow upon sorrow. In brief synopsis, I lost my husband, all that he was in my life, all that he was to our daughters, I lost our ministry together, all that we were in the community around us, I no longer belonged in couple activities, lost co-parenting roles, and now I am losing our home, the place where we welcomed our babies into the world, where we took them across the threshold, the home where his scent still lingers, rooms that contain memories upon memories of our biggest fights, our sweetest victories, our everyday normal that no longer exists... I lost my husband, my daughters' father, I lost our ministry, and I lost my home...
But there is something that our culture is not typically comfortable admitting, and that is the fact that God has placed eternity in our hearts (Ecc 3:11). My husband died, but lives. Lynn has joined the great cloud of witnesses (Heb 12:1) that gathers around us, cheering us on. He knows and sees fully, as we are fully known (1 Cor 13:12). He lost his natural body, but gained a spiritual body (1 Cor 15:44). My husband lives, but how? What does that mean in the process of grief? In moving on and letting go?
The journey for many of us in losing a loved one is often this: learning what to let go of and what to hold on to. What are those things that remain after the bomb has gone off, the damage is done, and the dust has settled... We are endeavoring to establish a new relationship...
I love my husband. Present tense. I long for him as such. But our relationship is different now... In the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels in heaven (Matt 22:30).
And God makes all things new... (Rev 21:5)
So what does this new relationship look like? As I wait on God for a new wineskin, a new life, a new season, a new home... How will I see Lynn reflected in it? What will remain when all else has been washed away? How will this new relationship change and shape me, be evident in my life?
Lynn, I know you're there, even though I'm still here. I know you're as close as a breath, and worlds away at the same time... I know you are a part of my life wherever I go, whatever I do.
I know you're smiling. I hear you telling me what you've told me before... Go for it, Babe. I believe you can do anything. You and the Holy Spirit are always a majority. Get up out of the depths!! Today is the best day of your life!!!!! :)
Lynn is my brother in Christ and will be the first to hold my hand when my time comes to walk through the veil from death into life everlasting. And that is a gift. Not all who grieve receive that gift. Not all deaths are painted with glory. For that, I can only cry, and weep with you dear one who grieves in darkness... But somehow, no matter how thick the darkness lies, no matter how heavily it smothers your heart... God always has the final word. And life is the only thing that lasts forever. Not death. Death is temporary. But life... Life is eternal.