Linda’s Aunt Marilyn died this week. She was in the hospital for over two weeks and they never found out what was wrong with her. She wasn’t in good health; she had diabetes, was on dialysis, had high blood pressure, was overweight. But she was only 64 and was going about her business pretty well. But what caused her to become sick and have to go to the hospital, have a viral infection, have heart problems, have low blood pressure, have all sorts of symptoms, was a mystery. All of these things contributed to her death, but none of them explained the mystery of what caused it.
But there are larger mysteries than how she died. One mystery is what happens to her after she dies. Most of her family and friends believe she is now in heaven. They have their assurance based on faith, but they don’t have evidence of it. Some others might think she doesn’t go anywhere. They don’t know for sure either. It is truly a mystery.
In both cases, medical and spiritual, we yearn for answers. To think someone can die without the medical world knowing why is a humbling realization. Humbling for the medical profession and humbling to those of us who expect that profession to understand everything. We must bow to the fact that we will not always know all these answers. We must experience and live within the mystery.
To know with certainty that our departed loved ones live on in some way is one of the deepest of desires. But we don’t know with certainty. All the evidence in the world can point in one direction, then something happens to make us believe in the other direction. But wherever we land intellectually, whatever we think happens after we die, we can’t know for certain until it is our turn. We must experience and live within the mystery.
A note about Marilyn:I didn’t know her until late in her life. She was kind, thoughtful and attentive to Linda’s new husband (me) and my family. She was especially attentive to my father (who lived with me from 2005-2007) when we would visit her house. She continued to ask about his welfare long after he moved back to California. She also was thoughtful and gracious to my daughters when they came to her house as well. I am grateful for her hospitality and her sweet and caring spirit.