I had a friend who passed away this past week and have taken his death hard. I knew him for 65 years. As we aged, we both knew that father time would take its toll on us. For me, it was especially hard given that my friend was a person that had no faith in doctors or pharmaceutical companies. I firmly believe that if he had taken just some basic blood tests, he would have lived longer especially if he took the medications he needed to control his blood pressure, cholesterol, and potential blood clotting.
Regarding death, I think it is the loss of communication with a deceased person that hits us the hardest. Years ago, several weeks after my mother passed, I heard a funny joke and picked up my phone to call her. But after dialing her number, I abruptly stopped and set the phone down. I suddenly realized that she would not be picking up her phone.
Life on this earth is short. As we age, it seems as if the years go faster. While none of us know when our final hour will come, we do know that it will—come. As we draw nearer to it, we are also certain that what we have accomplished and accumulated in terms of earthly possessions will be rendered meaningless.
Eternal life is critical in our faith as we know that when our earthly life ends there is no tomorrow for us. But, I wonder. How many of us really believe in eternal life with Christ? When we pray, do we hear Jesus’ words: “Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” (Jn 5:25)
I have spent a lot of time this past week thinking about my friend and how valuable the time was that we spent over the past half century. He is gone and there will be no more fishing trips in northern Michigan. I am still not sure what final arrangements his wife made with the funeral director but I suspect that he will be cremated and this is also hard on me. There will be no final resting place on this earth for him and there will be no final goodbye in the sense that he will be available to see one last time. A memorial service is scheduled for mid-October but I think I will have a hard time with this service especially if an urn is displayed with his ashes. This is not how I want to remember him.
This past week, I hugged my wife and children and grandchildren. I don’t know how much time I have left on this earth but I want to take advantage of this time as best I can. This is how I want them to remember me and I look forward to being with them after their earthly life is over.
DONALD WITTMER is a retired business executive who held key roles in the automotive and banking sectors. For a time, he also served as a Fiscal Agency Manager for the Detroit branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He received his undergraduate degree from Cincinnati’s Xavier University, an M.A. in business management from Central Michigan University, and earned certification in bank operations from the School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A husband, father, and grandfather, he teaches part-time at the Kent Place School for Girls in Summit, New Jersey.