I was at the funeral home tonight.
It’s not often I leave a wake and feel completely at peace. A friend’s grandpa died at age 93, for the most part, just from being 93. At dinner, when I reminded my kids that we’d be going, Clay asked me if “Grandpa” had been sick.
I didn’t anticipate the relief I’d feel by simply saying “no.” No carefully chosen words about why cancer takes people too young or clunky explanation about how bad things sometimes “just happen” to people we love.
“No, Clay, Grandpa wasn’t sick,” I said. “Just old. He kind of went to sleep.”
When we got to the funeral home, the kids ran off to play with their friends while I visited with the family. “Grandpa” was the grandfather (and grandfather-in-law) of some of my closest friends. Every Sunday after church, almost without fail, they’d pack up all four kids and head to Grandma and Grandpa’s for lunch. I met their grandparents just one time, but when friends become like family, their family has a way of feeling like an extension of your own.
When Grandma was finally alone, my friend Nancy reintroduced me.
“We met once before,” I said. “Years ago around a dinner table. I don’t expect you to remember, but I had the most delightful conversation with your husband.”
“I don’t remember,” she said, pointing to the open casket, “but he would. He never forgot a thing.”
After a few minutes of pleasant conversation, I expressed my condolences. But what happened next caught me off guard. Grandma took a firm grip on my arm and — I’m not kidding — scolded me.
“You don’t be sorry for me,” she said sternly. “You be thankful.”
She went on to explain that Grandpa’s death was an answer to prayer, just one more proof in a long legacy of faithful proofs that God was always right beside them — guiding them, leading them, holding their hands.
I know they don’t all go this way, but nonetheless, it was wisdom at its finest; a golden nugget passed down from one life to another, from one generation to the next.
A beautiful picture I won’t soon forget.
And, if ever given the chance, one I’d be honored to pass on to another unsuspecting soul.