November 21, 2006

Erica, 1947-2006

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 5:34 pm

Well, it hasn’t been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon. We’ve had another death in my extended family. My sister-in-law died suddenly and unexpectedly at age 59, leaving behind her husband and three children. It happened last week, but I’ve only just felt like blogging about it.

In my darker moments, this whole death thing seems like God’s cruel cosmic prank. God has rigged this whole mortal life thing so that, by all appearances, death is the end of our existence. Sure, we have the promises of Scripture regarding everlasting life, and faith borne by the presence of the Holy Spirt, but we don’t have proof. So we are condemned to suffer excruciating grief when someone close to us dies, especially someone that dies too young, and all we can do is to “cling to a promise” as my brother-in-law put it. So here we are, clinging desperately to the promise that Erica has joined the saints in the eternal kingdom of God, while suffering the terrible pain of her absence from the only world we can see and touch and feel.

But those are my darker moments. Over the past week I have seen another aspect of the way God has rigged this mortal death/eternal life thing. The tragic death of someone close to us drives us to God, and to one another, in a way nothing else does. Not always — death can drive families apart too — but it often does, and Erica’s death certaiinly did so for many of her friends and family. Without death, without untimely tragic deaths, we would live in a dehumanized Brave New World with no need to drop our illusions about our ability to control our lives, safe in the illusion that God is somehow irrelevant. Instead, seeing how helpless we are in the face of death, we seek out God and each other. And doing so, we come closer to understanding that death isn’t a tragedy for the deceased, but only for those they have left behind, and only if we stop clinging to God’s promise.


  1. Condolences, Bob. I’ll keep Erica and your family in my prayers this week.

    Comment by Chris T. — November 21, 2006 @ 11:48 pm

  2. May God bless and comfort you and your family.

    Comment by Lisa in FL — November 22, 2006 @ 5:33 am

  3. I’m sorry for you and even more for her family. What a loss.
    In August we lost our only grandma at age 97, leaving 3 children, 6 grandchildren and 10 greatgrandchildren.
    She was happy to be able to see them all personally.
    Perhaps Erica someday will see hers from hm wherever.
    Best wishes for all of you.
    Selig sind, die nicht sehen und doch glauben!
    ..blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. John 20,29
    Please excuse my poor english!

    Comment by Hiltrud — November 22, 2006 @ 5:47 am

  4. Thanks all for your thoughts and prayers.

    Comment by Bob — November 22, 2006 @ 12:10 pm

  5. About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. God LOVES me so much. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

    Peace Be With You

    Comment by Micky — May 15, 2007 @ 2:43 am

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