I write this from my in-laws home as we wait for my father-in-law to pass away. After a long life well lived and a fairly slow-moving illness, he is ready to die and have the feeling of peace he has be made complete. Bob is a man of deep faith -- he grew up the son of a Lutheran pastor and God and his relationship with God has been central to his life. He left the corporate track after a couple of decades in order to teach business at a Christian college and shape students who would live lives of faith and ethics, not just seeking profit at any cost. He called those students Christian Tigers -- business leaders who would still seek to achieve many things but do it with a sense of the greater good and living in Christ-like ways.

Family members, like ourselves, have been coming to visit in order to help out my mother-in-law with his care but also to say goodbye. David and I talked about whether we would all come to say goodbye or just wait for the funeral. We felt it important to actually say goodbye, for us and also for our daughters.  It is such an honor and a blessing to be able to say goodbye to a person who is dying. In this, you have an opportunity to share the matters of the heart and soul, how you have been touched or changed by the person, and the good you have seen as God has worked through him or her. While this has been hard for each of us, and hard for the girls to find their words, it is a way that we can give one last gift of love to Bob.

Through his wife Jane, Bob has also invited their friends, the close ones and the important relationships with friends who aren't in his close circle, to come by to visit. As much as those who come express gratitude for their relationship, Bob does not just receive but also expresses his own gratitude for friendship, stories shared, lessons learned, and the pleasure of walking an intentionally-Christian journey together.

As I switch between weeping, chatting, making the girls do their homework, and helping out around the house, the words from the alternative anthem that can begin the Episcopal funeral rite float through my mind:

In the midst of life we are in death; from whom can we seek help? (BCP page 492)

My mind answers from Psalm 121, "My help comes from The Lord, the maker of heaven and earth." (This psalm was read by David when family were gathered in prayer with Bob. Then they all said Psalm 23 together at Bob's suggestion.) Life continues on in the midst of death and dying; the reverse is also true. With lives tuned to God's working in our lives, we can sing the melody of gratitude and thanksgiving.