Tuesday morning my book club discussed N.D. Wilson's newest book, Death by Living. In it, Wilson says that this is his statement on "a way of living, a way of receiving life." He discusses the idea that each life is a story within the great STORY being written by God. We all contribute to the narrative of that story, touch others' stories, make decisions about whether or not our life will be a good story containing thoughts, words, and deeds that are filled with grace. He encourages us to do our best, face trouble in such a way that the nature of God is clear to the world, and be thankful for the breaths we take and the lives we get to spend for God and others. That all of us are careening toward death and we get there by living so how will we spend our life?
Tuesday evening my mother called to tell me that a dear friend of our family had passed away into eternity. Frank's story is over for now. His story collided into mine decades ago. Frank was married to my mom's best friend from childhood. During the summers of my teen years, I would take the commuter flight from Poughkeepsie to Burlington to travel to my grandparents' house for summer visits. Often Frank and his wife, Jan, would pick me up at the airport and let me spend the night at their house. There was always pizza and card playing and laughter at their house. Next morning my grandfather would pick me up and we would make the 2 hour drive to his house. Later, when 2 poor grad students decided to get married, Frank and Jan gave my husband and I wedding rings they had inherited to help us out and bless us. For the first couple of years of our marriage, we had many nights of pizza together with my folks and Frank and Jan. We taught Frank how to play "nasty Uno", a fast paced, card-flying version of the game. We finally had to quit, though, when Frank, an accountant, sheepishly revealed that it was getting too easy for him because he remembered all the cards as they went flying past. Frank's life was characterized by joy and kindness. He always had a smile, sparkling eyes, and a happy take on life. It wasn't that his life didn't have tragedy and sorrow, it did. I just never heard about it from him. He wrote his story with kindnesses and those flowed into my life. Later, my first son was born on Frank's birthday. I am so thankful for the grace of Frank's life spilling over into mine.
Three loved ones from this picture are now gone into eternity this past year. Frank, my dad, and my mother-in-law. Heavy losses indeed, but also opportunity to remind myself of how their stories made mine so much better.