Stories about the tragic plane crash in Lexington, Kentucky have filled our local newspapers the last few weeks. The untimely deaths of 49 men, women, and children have taken sorrow and heartache way beyond Kentucky borders. To me, one of the saddest articles was the individual descriptions of the passengers and their intended destinations.
- A mother put her 16 year old daughter on the plane and took a later flight home because the plane was full — not knowing she would never see her daughter alive again.
- A young couple who were married the day before the flight were beginning their honeymoon and looking forward to spending the rest of their lives together.
- A husband surprised his wife with a trip to Aruba to celebrate her 50th birthday. They were together on the plane.
After I read about each of the passengers and then folded the newspaper in my lap, I said a prayer for their families and friends. It only took a few seconds for those families to lose a loved one when the plane crashed. They will spend the rest of their lives learning how to live without them.
My mother died in 1990 of colon cancer. My father died five years later of a heart attack. Both of them were relatively young. Mom was 51 and dad was 65 when he died. My mother's extended illness allowed us to say goodbye, but my dad's heart attack came suddenly in the middle of the night. I said goodbye to him one Sunday afternoon, and the next day my brother and I were at the funeral home, making arrangements.
I loved both my parents and I can't honestly say that having the time to say goodbye to my mother made giving her up any easier. Watching my mother die a long, slow painful death from cancer was without a doubt the most difficult experience of my life. Finding out that a loved one has died unexpectedly is a shock, but there was some small measure of comfort in knowing my father's death was quick and he didn't have to suffer.
As the years pass, I have come to several conclusions about death. One is that a person never really gets over the death of a loved one; they merely learn how to live with the loss. Two, every holiday and special event in your life will be accompanied by an ache in your heart for the person who is missing. And three, no matter how much time we have with someone we love, whether it is ten minutes, ten years, or a life time, it will never ever be enough.
I don't know how many of the people in the crash were Christians. But I do know this, if they were Christians, then their families have the hope of seeing them again. There is no greater comfort when a loved one dies than knowing that when we all get to heaven we never have to say goodbye again.
Jesus, as he was preparing his own unsuspecting followers for his death, promised them. "You have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy" (John 16:22 NLT, 1st Ed.). I hold on to that promise with all my heart!