Psalm 23; Matthew 11:28-30
A Letter to the Deceased
By Pastor Steven Molin
I knew there would be many voices heard today, sharing stories and memories; laughter and tears with you who knew and loved Steve. So rather than prepare a sermon, I simply wrote a letter. I hope it speaks for you in this time of remembering. Here goes….
We’ve never met, but after listening to your sisters and wife talk about you, I think we could have been friends. I share your love of the outdoors, your passion for fishing and music, and your strange sense of humor. And since you grew up with four older sisters, I also feel your pain; never getting hot water for a shower, never getting the toilet when you needed it, never being heard over the constant chatter of all these strong women. But I can tell you this; after sitting with Jan, Kathy, Carol and Sandy on Sunday evening, they loved you to pieces. You may not have ever known how deeply they felt about you, the little brother that they looked up to.
Oh, and they spilled all the family secrets, too. They told me how anal you were about keeping your things immaculate; your cars, your boat, your Harley; they were like your babies. And they talked about how much you loved your dogs and cats…big strong man reduced to a child when it came to loving his pets. This is what they said about you.
Jan spoke of her love for you, and the nearly 30 years you had together. She mentioned the day you sprung on her that, before you’d marry her, you wanted her to sign a pre-nuptial agreement. She was aghast. “A pre-nuptial agreement” she said. “What have you got that’s so valuable that you’re worried about me taking away from you?” You looked around, and then said rather sheepishly… “Um, my duck decoys?” But Steve, isn’t that ironic, because now they do belong to her.
And that’s what I wanted to write you about today…the way you died. Your family and friends feel guilty; wasn’t there something they could have said or done to have kept you safe? But in their heart of hearts, they know that when Steve set his mind to something, he would not be deterred. “He’ll do it his way, in his time, on his terms.” In their hearts they knew this, and now those hearts are broken into a million little pieces.
Steve, what I want to tell them is something they already know: that you were weary. That much of your adult life was a battle. Between the physical pain and the emotional scars from that VietNam war, you persevered for 59 years, and then you had had enough. We’re trying to understand this, because, you see, most of us in this life see death as the enemy and life as the friend, and we would do everything in our power to cling to life. But somehow, it became inverted for you; and after all these years, you saw life as the enemy and death as the friend. So ten days ago, you reached out and embraced your friend.
What I hope now is that those who love you can forgive you for what you did, and that they can forgive themselves for where they think they failed you. We forgive you, Steve, for choosing to let go and leave this world. But most importantly, God forgives you. The God who claimed you at your baptism, the God who wept every time your body or your mind were tormented; this God forgives you, and you know this, because already you are resting comfortably in his arms.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
That’s what Jesus said, and you believed him, and now…finally…you are at peace.
But Steve, here’s some more good news; that when our time is over on this earth, we too will be welcomed into heaven. Jan, and your family and friends will see you again; I’ll get a chance to meet you face to face. Until then, the road will be difficult for those you left behind, but they will cling to their memories of you; bushy beard, bad-ass Harley, cool blues music, and that gentle smile on your face. And God will comfort them, Steve, until you can embrace them one by one in heaven.
Copyright 2009 Steven Molin. Used by permission.