A very close friend’s wife has untreatable brain cancer, and barring a direct miracle, is on her way home. Such is the common fate of us all: here, and then gone. To those of us who believe in life-after-death with one another, death itself is not frightening as much as it poses a severe and life-challenging relational interruption. There is no pain like missing someone who is a part of you. If not fought or repressed, it is a kind of defining reality that brings with it a unique set of insights.
Life is largely defined by the quality of our relationships. True happiness can never be experienced without intimate people connected to our own awareness of how we are experiencing life. When joy or pain are uncommunicated and left alone within us, they frequently morph into something misshapen and isolating. Isolation, real or imagined, is feared by even the most toughened and hardened criminals in prisons, and that is the primary reason why it is meted out as an extreme form of punishment. Healthy people “connect,” and really healthy people connect deeply with others who choose to live in the light of being appropriately self-revealing.
When one considers a true marriage where the process of growing into oneness has been progressing for many years, the possibility of loss through death becomes something unreal. How does one remain “whole” if part of them is removed? The obvious answer is that we don’t. I’m not so sure that we are “less than” as much as we are “other than,” if that makes sense. Those of us who have lost one parent before the other have watched that process take place in the one who remains; if we have not lost a life-mate ourselves, we have seen its powerful effect on others.
All of this brings me to the point of sobering musing. Ultimately, we are all on loan to one another until eternity. We did not create each other, no matter how much we have helped shape each other. God alone creates us, and then “loans” us to each other on the earth. Our eternal togetherness is assured by Christ’s words and commitments He made to those with whom He modeled intimacy in His short stay on the planet. “Bonded relationships” is a simile for heaven, and “separation” is another word for hell. Perspective is the gift of insight, and living in the ever-present reality of being loaned to one another carries within it the depth of truest love. It’s all a gift, and that is……the bottom line.