My children and I stood together as the nurse bent over Curt. She lifted her head, her gaze met ours, "He's gone." Just two simple words. But the impact was indescribable. A life well-lived that filled our world, directed our lives, embraced, provided, comforted, and loved us so well—Gone. Snuffed out. Many nights, those two words echoed in my mind as I tried to fall asleep.
This week, as I was reading another chapter in 50 Days of Heaven by Randy Alcorn, something he shared leaped out at me. This little story took away the sting of those final words.
I’m standing on the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She’s an object of beauty and strength and I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and the sky come down and mingle with each other. And then I hear someone at my side saying, “There, she’s gone.”
Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side. And just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “There, she’s gone,” there are other eyes watching her coming, and there are other voices ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!” And that is dying.
(A poem variously attributed Henry Scott Holland or Henry Van Dyke; source uncertain.)
I could easily picture it in my mind. My family immigrated to the US from Brazil when I was seven years old. My grandmother sometimes came to visit us, and she would stay for a year or several years before she flew to Brazil again to be with her other children and grandchildren. Every time she left, we cried. She had become such a big part of our lives, and it hurt to see her go. But as we waved a tearful goodbye, our family in Brazil leaped with joy and anticipation for my grandmother's soon arrival.
Reading the story above, I pictured that hospital scene once more. I heard the words, "He's gone." But this time it didn't end there. Instead, in my mind, I saw the many who preceded Curt, standing and shouting, "Here he comes!"
Acorn falls to earth
Simple change of location
Mighty oak begins.
Curt Dalaba ©2005
I love thinking about heaven, where I will one day reunite with Curt. Looking forward to that reunion doesn’t diminish my joy of seeing Jesus, my Lord. It doesn’t take anything away from my worship of God. It only enhances my praise because, without Christ, a reunion would be impossible. I imagine that on the day Curt and I throw our arms around each other, we will lift our voices in joyous praise to God, who made it all possible. He will be at the center of our joy—always and forever!
The Folded Tent
And so it's been from the beginning, life has been so good to me.
Oh the beauty I enjoy, oh the family and the friends
On this journey in God's bright and blessed world I roam,
I can't imagine this could ever end.
One more road to travel, one more song to sing,
It seems my tent has just unfolded, as I take a look around.
The winds have blown, the rain has fallen,
Threatening storms have filled my site,
I held down fast this little small one,
So much to see, so much to do, so much wonder yet to live.
Storm, you shall not take it; I'll hold tight.
My tent's not ready to be folded; it's not time to lay it down.
I gather you about me, for I long to see your face,
There's one more thing I've got to say,
Before I leave this place,
I've cherished you in living, oh I cherish you in death,
For loving is a pleasant way,
To draw one's final breath,
For I see my tent is folding and I'll have to lay it down.
Of late I've found a strange new drawing,
To another place so fair,
I hear His voice, to me is calling,
To a place where there's no care.
So I've let go, released my soul and bid farewell,
And now my tent has folded and it's time to lay it down.
Curt Dalaba ©September 11, 2004
January 19, 2022