Death is nothing more than a doorway, something you walk through.
- Dr. George Ritchie
A friend’s husband died recently. The two of them were as different as night and day, but they stayed the long course and loved each other dearly through life’s many ups and downs. They were great fun to be around.
Years before, when he was well, he was visiting some family and friends and, thinking himself a lot younger than he really was, spent a good part of the afternoon jumping with kids on the backyard trampoline. He was a daredevil and had a ball jumping higher and higher—so high, in fact, that he bounced right off the trampoline, hitting his neck and ribcage on the way down.
A trip to the hospital told him many things: He had broken his neck in three places, he had lots of bruises—and he had a tumor on his lung. Surgery successfully removed the encapsulated tumor and he recovered well. The doctors told him that without that fall they would not have found the tumor until it was way too late to treat. We knew then that God had him in the palm of his hand, and over the years we watched him draw him closer and closer to his heart. His wife, a very prayerful woman, was on her knees many a day in thanksgiving for his safety and begging God to enable her husband to find him through all of this. He gave hints that he was walking that path but he sure did like to make you wonder sometimes, with a little twinkle in his eyes.
When he was beginning to decline, slowly but surely, he had a peace about him that showed he had come to know God after a long and winding road. He could never have sent out so many beautiful emails to friends about God without knowing him well. One day he asked his wife, “Am I still here—at home with you?” The peace he was feeling made him wonder if he was already in heaven.
God often allows this experience while people are still with us. The beauty, quiet, acceptance and joy they see reflected in their loved ones’ eyes is a true reflection of heaven and the God who is waiting for them with open and loving arms. He died a day or two later in the arms of the woman who had loved him all his life, just like God did.