The phone rang around 9 this morning. Lois answered. “It’s Monica, for you,” she said. Before I heard her weeping, I knew. “Glenn died this morning.” Her words sucked air from my lungs. “We’re in North Carolina for a short vacation, having a good time,” she managed between sobs. “Glenn got up this morning at 6:30 and just collapsed. When Jesse and I got to him he was barely breathing. We called 911. But they couldn’t save him. They’ll do an autopsy Tuesday to try to find the cause.”
I asked how Jesse was. Thoughts of going with you to the airport to pick up the Korean boy you adopted over two decades ago flashed through my mind. “About the same as I am,” she said. Her tears never stopped during our short conversation. Another image: Monica rushing to you on the floor and finding you almost gone. How did she feel ? What went through her mind driving to the hospital—and after? Thankfully she has quite a few family members for support when she and Jesse get home to North Port.
I prayed with her before we hung up. “Father . . . ” And then I didn’t know what to say. I can’t even remember what it turned out to be. We hung up. I cried. Lois came and held me.
Why cry? You’re with Jesus and that’s better by far (Philippians 1:23)! I was grieving, though not as others who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). I cried, because I felt great loss. You’re my five-year-younger brother. Even though we’ve not always been close, memories came flooding back.
Week-long summer vacations at the Jersey Shore. Remember that year cousin Dennis was with us and we found the hull of an old sailboat at the bungalow Dad rented and we used a straw broom and I don’t remember what else to paddle out the lagoon into Barnegat Bay? Wiffle Ball and football in our backyard at Lion’s Head Lake? Most Wiffle Ball games ended in an argument and Mom saying, “Wait ’til your father gets home.” And football was crazy. Just you and me against each other, rushing into each other, passing the ball to ourselves.
We graduated to church softball after that. You played short, me third. For a while we played racquetball weekly at Yogi Berra’s club. Those were great times. I don’t know if you remember, but you’re the one who got me into jogging. I think it was right after Bible college. I guess I was a little paunchy and you persuaded me to hit the pavement in Atco, N.J. I must have run for forty years, ’til my back troubles began.
At one point, you hit a rough spot, drifted away from the Lord. We never stopped praying. I still remember you showing up out of nowhere on the front steps of The Living Church in Montclair telling me you were back. And I remember how happy you were when you told me you and Monica were dating. She was our pianist in the church then and you were one of several guitarists on our worship team. It was such a joy to perform your wedding ceremony!
Remember our move from N.J. to Florida? Two big U-Haul trucks, yours with a trailer hauling a car. Monica driving your other car and Lois driving ours. We were like the late ’80’s version of “the Beverly Hillbillies.” We split at I-4, you and Monica going south to North Port, Lois and I going to Palm Harbor. Times together were few after that, mostly holidays.
I regret that. So much we could have done and said. Nobody’s fault, just life. About two years ago, we had some conflict. Today I’m eternally grateful to our Father that by his grace we got it resolved and could end our recent string of e-mails, “Love”.
As always, death—especially death so close—gives a different view of life. How short time is! How much of it we waste distanced from those we love because of an argument or some other trivial thing! How idiotic we are to put God on the back-burner when our relationship with him through Christ determines our eternal destiny!
Apart from “better by far” and “death is gain”, Scripture doesn’t say much about this time between going to be with the Lord and getting our resurrection bodies at Christ’s Second Coming. I’d love to ask you what it’s like being with Jesus now! Anyhow, I guess now you know what Paul meant about being caught up into the paradise of “the third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2,3). So, while I have a sad heart with you gone (and only the Lord knows who won more of our competitive Wiffle Ball, football and racquetball games), I have to admit: you won today. You got to see Jesus first.
I love you, brother. I miss you, though if it were an ordinary Sunday I probably wouldn’t even think about you. But on this Sunday, I wish I could give you one more hug. Guess that’ll have to wait a little while.