A few weeks ago on a brilliant Sunday afternoon, my grandparents’ friends, a couple in their 80s, took their own lives. I didn’t know them personally, but I am grieving anyway. I’m grieving on behalf of their children, on behalf of their friends, on behalf of all those they left behind.
You were almost there, almost at the finish line. I know you wanted to end in a sprint, with triumph and vigor, arms lifted high. But somewhere along the way you forgot that finishing well sometimes just means finishing. Even if you have to limp across the line.
I wish you could have seen the crowd in the stands . . . all the people who were cheering you on, urging you forward. All the people who loved you.
I suppose you knew what King David knew—that we are but sojourners here on earth.
We are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. (1 Chronicles 29:15)
Life in these shadowlands is hard, it’s true. The losses take our breath away, the pain doubles us over, and it can be hard to see the finish line through the tears.
But with these encroaching shadows, we needed you all the more. We needed your light. We needed the conversations over Sunday brunch, the phone calls to check in, the recipes to swap. You reflected God’s light in a way no one else can, and now your unique brilliance has been snuffed out.
If you were still here, I would hug you first and then chastise you. Instead, I’m left with the secondary grief of mourning you on behalf of those I love.
“People needed you,” I would have said. “My grandparents needed you.”
You were afraid to be a burden, but this burden you leave behind is so much heavier.
All I have is words, and they come too late for you to hear. And so I write in the hope that someone else will read these words and it will not be too late for them.
I want you to know that you are irreplaceable.
That the world needs your light.
That you can make it to the finish line.
So please. Please, fellow sojourner. Do not end your sojourn too soon.