28 years since the call. And there have been other calls in the past three decades as well. Some were expected (if that really describes it) and a few caught me completely by surprise. All of them created a hole of some sort ... an empty spot that you really never fill. Oh, the images in my mind take on a "softer" quality over time, but at the core they remain as mileposts of loss. But lately, I've begun to wonder if they miss us as well ...
I think the answer, though it may be tough for many to hear (I include myself in this "many") is, "No. They don't miss us." Now, don't hear what I'm not saying. I'm not saying they have no knowledge of us. I'm merely pointing out that as they stand before the Presence, little else is of tangible consequence. They have moved beyond what C.S. Lewis called the Shadowlands ... why would they even think to look back with any sort of regret or longing?
No, friends, it is we who are left who do the missing. And if anybody tries to tell you he or she does not miss a loved one, even one known to be in the Presence, that person is in denial or flat-out lying. I've got friends with living parents who are suffering from diminished capacities who know the "real person" is still there and they still grieve for what they see. It's just part of being human and still living on this side of what is yet to come.
When Jesus' good friend Lazarus died, our Brother wept. He did so out of human grief and also because Mary and Martha were grieving. He explained the nature of Life and Resurrection (take out the indefinite article "the" in his response from John 11:25 and you'll see what I mean) in terms they couldn't deny yet failed to grasp. And it's because they missed their brother, not because of any lack of faith. Frankly, it's Lazarus who got the raw deal - he had to die a second time.
The Crooked Path is a mortal walk, but there is a sunrise over the last hill we can anticipate. We grieve now and miss those who have left. 28 years later, I still miss Dad and would give most anything for even an hour's chat. But he doesn't miss me - he's in the Presence and that's far too overwhelming and glorious. I just take heart to know I'll see him again. I know he still loves me even now and would be proud of the man I am becoming. For now, that's enough to get me through another year.