A good friend of mine married a lovely woman a few weeks ago. The next day they moved everything they had halfway across the country, away from friends and family, to start their new life together. I was proud of him, and still am, and I wanted to give him something to take with them that was truly from the heart.
So, as I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear, I wrote them a letter.
I started the letter with a quote from C.S. Lewis. To be fair, I have never read the work this quote was from. I stumbled upon it quite accidentally, but it fit so well I had to share it with him. He often picks on me for sounding too much like Lewis; a compliment I particularly enjoy.
There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.
Like I said, I did not know the context, though I assumed that the “ahead” implied was heaven and not the East Coast. It still fit my friend’s situation well. What I didn’t realize is that this was a quote from a letter to a woman who was lamenting her own impending death. The question Lewis posed right before this quote may not be shocking to his fans, but it still floors me every time I read it.
Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave it with regret?
My uncle is dying. Praying for a miracle cure at this point is the epitome of selfishness. He has suffered long and been long-suffering. Though we cannot wish for his death; we desperately hope for an end to his suffering.
To any of you besides my uncle, please forgive me for writing what follows. I’m sure these words will offer you no consolation, and probably only double your pain. We have no other choice than to view his death as an end. To us, still trapped in this world, we can only see it as a loss.
But to my uncle, I wish to share my heart. I love you, and I would be ashamed if I selfishly did not give you this piece of myself, even though you will shortly leave it behind for better things.
I pray for you peace in these last fleeting moments surrounded by a handful of loved ones; soon to be surrounded by multitudes. That glimpse of peace I hope you now enjoy in the midst of pain will there be fully revealed. You are so close to hearing these words from our Father’s lips.
Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!
You will be missed here, but not for long. These tears of sorrow will be transformed to tears of joy. Those cherished loved ones who sit now at your side will one day join you at the table.
When you get there, if you wouldn’t mind giving our Daddy and my Mommy and Melvin and your In-Laws and the host of others who’ve gone before a whole bunch of really big hugs, we’d appreciate it. I sure would. Please tell them I love them and I miss them and I long to be with them. There’s just a few things left here that I need to do. I promise I’ll be home in time for dinner.
I wish to give you the same words, the last words, I gave to my mom. I know that they are not the last words ever, only the last for now. For now, these too are my last words to you.
Be still, and know that I am God
I love you, Uncle Ken. Safe travels. See you soon.