Death and Life

Photo: Donut Diva

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
John 20:11-18

I’ve never experienced a Lenten season quite like this one. A little over 40 days ago days ago, I gave up blogging (except for this one post) so I would focus more on Jesus. My plan was to pray diligently, read the Bible every day, and try to look for signs of Jesus in every day life.

That lasted three days.

Turns out, instead of using my time wisely while not writing, I was on Facebook a lot more. That’s why, on March 19, I saw the message right away. My friend’s son posted asking all loved ones to come say goodbye to his mother. 

Wait. What? 

Karen was just diagnosed with cancer, right? Wasn’t she just supposed to beat this thing? Isn’t that what my friends do? They get cancer. Then they get a lot of crappy poison in their bodies. Then they get better. 

Unless, like my dear friend Teresa, they get lung cancer.
Or, unless like Karen, they get pancreatic cancer.

I never got to say goodbye to Teresa. There is no way I was letting Karen go without one last hug.

Karen’s son, Tim, requested visits to be limited to five minutes. Five minutes. How do you say goodbye to someone you won’t see again, 
get advice from again, 
hug again, 
laugh with again, 
in five minutes?

I told my daughters what was going on, grabbed my keys, and headed to the hospital. Karen’s three kids were inside her room. A few friends were there. It was a small party. 

Screw five minutes. I stayed for an hour.

Karen lie in the hospital bed under a homemade quilt. She wasn’t speaking. She was barely breathing. But she was listening. I’m sure of it. 

I love you Karen. I sat down on her hospital bed and whispered close to her ear. Where would I be without you? You were supposed to help me get my girls through their teenage years! You’re really going to bail on me? Just kidding. Sort of.

You deserve peace. You have spent your entire life helping others. So many live today because of you. [Karen was a popular pediatrician in town. She made house calls. She worked on her days off.] There is a piece of my heart that will always be yours, friend. Now there is a hole no one else can fill.”

I stroked her hair, now grey and limp. I touched her forehead, her skin almost the same color as her tresses. She was ready to see Jesus.

Goodbye, friend.

I exited the room, but instead of going to my car, I searched the directory for the hospital chapel. I needed to have words with Someone.

What. The. Hell, God? Are you freaking kidding me right now? She gets through a tough marriage, finally finding independence through divorce. Then her son gets a brain tumor, which after remission, came back. She gets him through that and THEN YOU TAKE HER WITH CANCER?!? Was it not enough she had to suffer with her son, through all of the children she’s cared for over the years, all the while remaining EXTREMELY faithful to You. Now her body deteriorates before she leaves this earth. Where is the justice? 
Where are Your miracles? 
Can’t you pull a “Lazarus” and save her?

The next day, just after noon, my question was answered. 

God didn’t save her. At least for us, here, the ones left on earth. He did save her from her pain, from her cancer. 

I miss my friend.

On this Easter Sunday, we celebrate the day Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead. 3 days earlier, his mother watched him murdered. His friends could not help him. They lamented, What the freaking hell, God? (I’m sure that’s in scripture somewhere.)

Still in deep mourning, Mary Magdalene, probably the woman closest to Jesus,went to take care of his body. The body wasn’t there. At least, not a dead body. 

A very much alive Jesus showed himself to her and later to the rest of his friends, his followers, and family. The dead man was alive. Eating with them. Talking with them. Praying with them.

I can only imagine the elation I would feel if Karen came back to life. I would drop everything to spend as much time as possible with her. I would blast the news all over Facebook and Twitter. There would be no way to silence me. For a second, I can sense the disciples reaction when Jesus came back.

I rejoice in Jesus’ resurrection. I know Karen is up there, pain free, with him. Most likely she’s already found the celestial orchestra and she is first chair for oboe. (That’s a thing, right? Obviously I did not share her passion for instruments.) If the wind has a melodic tune today, you’ll know it’s her.

Andee Zomerman Nature of a Servant

Today, because of Jesus, I will take comfort believing death is not an end, but the beginning of new life. 


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