Death Isn’t the End

I’ve often thought about death.  This puzzles my generally upbeat husband who sometimes wonders if he didn’t marry Morticia from The Addams Family, the television sitcom with the catchy theme song: “They’re creepy and they’re kooky; Mysterious and spooky; They’re altogether ooky; The Addams Family.”

He never understands how the topic of death pops into conversations about everything, from me questioning if, after I die, anyone will wipe the crumbs off of the kitchen counters to what about my life will have mattered (besides ensuring clean countertops for an indifferent-to-crumbs family). Recently, the longtime retired pastor of our parish passed away. It was sad. People were sad. I was sad. And I couldn’t help feeling like his passing was just another in a multitude of deaths that we have all experienced during the past two years. It’s been a long season of loss for many of us. People we love and who have left an indelible mark on our lives are gone leaving us to live on the morsels of treasured memories which never come close to being as satisfying as having our loved ones with us.

As much as I am tired of grieving and losing those who are so dear to me or watching friends deal with their own losses, pondering death doesn’t feel macabre to me.  It feels centering.  Death is a compass that can point us in the direction of a meaningful life. It is the halting reminder that our time on earth matters.  Occasionally, it’s an annoying tug that tells us to be more patient with the people we love because they won’t always be with us.  Death highlights life’s priorities and ruthlessly edits the superfluous that squanders our time, energy, and efforts in a thoughtless heap of irrelevance.  It magnifies the kaleidoscope of distraction in our lives and offers a clear lens to see through the blur of busyness into the balm of simplicity. The purpose of life, as complicated as we sometimes make it, really is quite simple.  It is to love.  It is to be love and act of love, specifically, God’s love – that perfect and abiding love which conquers death.

As the secular world gets ready to celebrate Halloween, and as much I love saying the word spooky, and as catchy as the tune is for The Addams Family — I can’t help but think ahead to All Saints Day, which honors all of the the saints known and unknown throughout our human history. I can’t help but think of all the souls I have lost in my time on earth and the gratitude I feel for their lives despite the still painful losses. Mostly, I think of the joy that awaits all of us should we get to enter the kingdom of heaven. It’s as palpable to me as listening to the beat of the spirited song “When the Saints Go Marching In.” It dulls the sting of grief’s sadness by reminding me that for Christians, death is not the end of our story.

I think again of my retired parish priest and the legacy he left our parish, specifically his devotion to Perpetual Adoration. He spent his life reminding us that no matter what we do here on earth, nothing or no one will be as meaningful as the time we spend with Jesus. It’s a legacy that reminds me that while death is inevitably sad, we can never lose sight of the joy that awaits us in heaven. While I may always ponder death, it’s not because I am “creepy or kooky.” It is because I so very much “want to be in that number when the Saints go marching in.”

I hope to see you there.

In memory of Father Fred Parke and the beautiful legacy he left so many. 

Hi, all~ When my children were in grade school one of my favorite things to do was to attend the All Saints Day mass and see the kids dressed up as Saints and process into the church singing “When the Saints Go Marching in.” I really hope that song gets stuck in everyone’s head today because it really is so joyful!

Speaking of joyful:

Ever dreamt of having a drink with a Jesus writer? I hear it’s actually a popular bucket list item. I will be at the Posting House in San Marco this Thursday, October 28 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. for a special “Sip and Sign.” I will have copies of Simple Mercies for sale. So come visit me!
Full disclosure: I can’t turn water into wine but I can point you towards the bar to buy yourself a glass!
Hope you can pop in and say hi. Cheers!
~ Love , Lara





8 thoughts on “Death Isn’t the End

  • October 26, 2021 at 3:00 pm

    Beautiful words, and sentences I had to read twice knowing they would carry me through the days ahead. My father is at the end of his journey, and nothing eases the sadness like knowing he will be with our Heavenly Father (and my dearly missed mother). Thank you for honoring Fr. Fred, and helping me. xo

    • November 15, 2021 at 5:48 pm

      Shannon, I am so sorry that you are grieving the loss of someone else so dear. Grief can feel like an impossible sorrow but there is so much hope in our faith. And, thinking of your dad and mom reunited, I can’t help but smile. Sending you love, prayers, and peace for the days ahead. (and I am sorry for the slow reply! I was having some technical issues).

  • October 26, 2021 at 1:56 pm

    that was nice. Father Fred was very good at delivering a sermon and I will remember him for that.

    • November 9, 2021 at 6:51 am

      Yes, he was a gift to so many people. Glad you got to hear him.

  • October 26, 2021 at 10:41 am

    I hope to see you in that number too. I too have many thoughts about death, always with a sense of gratitude for the hope it gives me each day; that it is not an ending, rather, a glorious beginning to an eternal gathering. Love your words Lara and love the heart that allows them to bubble out into my world. tgg xo

    • October 26, 2021 at 1:30 pm

      That’s beautiful, Tricia. And, I love that it makes you feel gratitude. It’s always hard to lose someone we love but it’s such a joy to look forward too a reunification where there is no more suffering. I will be overjoyed to see you singing along next to me! I am already smiling just thinking about it!

  • October 26, 2021 at 8:15 am

    Hi…I am in the process of reading your wonderful book. I am truly enjoying it and it is so very well written. I hope to finish it by mid week next week and when I do I will make sure that I leave a review for you. Thank you for your wonderful writing..

    Where is San Marco?

    • October 26, 2021 at 1:29 pm

      Hi Pat! I am so glad you are enjoying the book! And, you are so thoughtful to remember that I need reviews! Thank you! The Posting House is in San Marco near the square. The address for it is: 2018 Hendricks Avenue 32207. It is in the same little strip as Marble Slab Ice Cream but on the Hendricks side. It’s very cute! I hope to see you there!

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