The following post was written two years ago, just a few days after the death of Rob Koger. Losing a loved one is one of many reminders in life that our happiness on this earth is dependent on so many important people and so many important things. For that reason it is quite fragile.
It’s amazing that in one moment we can seem on top of the world, feeling invincible, and yet the next moment life changes on a dime. One missing piece to the puzzle of life- just one –can throw everything off balance. Indeed, with the death of a loved one there is a constant awareness that someone is missing. And that void- that no one else can fill –suddenly makes us feel that the world we live in has forever changed.
More challenging still is having faith in God that everything will work out in the end; that one day there will be an answer to all of the “why’s”. After all, it is only faith and prayer that can ultimately reconcile the gratitude we owe to God for having benefited from someone else’s life- and -the untold suffering that it causes us when that life is recalled…recalled to the One who created it.
July 28, 2011:
Death greets us all. On July 25th, in my extended family, death greeted a young gentleman by the name of Rob Koger after a severe brain injury. Totally unexpected was his death. As his life was sustained by life support, prayers poured in on his behalf that God might work a miracle. As for myself, I prayed in earnest that he would recover.
However, as difficult it was to accept God's answer and say good-bye to such a promising young man, my faith in His Divine Providence inspires me to believe that He had bigger plans for Rob. No doubt, God's plans involved Rob's eternal happiness with Him in heaven. This place called heaven, seldom talked about or even thought about, is where life and happiness really begins. As Pope Leo XIII said, "...when we have given up this present life, then shall we really begin to live...He has given us this world as a place of exile, and not as our abiding place."
The drawback to this journey is that we enter into that abiding place, namely heaven, one soul at a time. That is, as each relative or friend is called home there are sad good-byes and a time of waiting before we are reunited with loved ones once again.
Saying good-bye to Rob as he crossed over the threshold of death and into eternity is a painful reminder that this earth, as good as it is, can only give us passing joys...good things in life that are impossible to hold on to. In a sense, Catholics rehearse saying good-bye to loved ones and the good things of this earth when we pray the Salve Regina at the end of each rosary. Addressed to the Blessed Virgin, it reads: "To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears...Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus."
The beautiful part about being Catholic is that we believe in second chances; indeed, our good-byes to loved ones through death are only temporary. But the sad part about being human is that these good-byes are so painful that our deceased loved one takes a part of us with them. We are never quite the same after a loved one's death because his or her life contributed to who we are. And even more importantly, each human being reveals something about God that no one else can reveal. As such, when we mourn the death of someone, we, at the same time, mourn the loss of that small portion of God we enjoyed in our friend or relative while on earth.
From everything I know about Rob, he sure gave us a lot of God to love. For that, many will shed tears over his death; especially his parents and siblings. The pain is incalculable but the hope of seeing him again will grow, God willing, over the years. At least that is my prayer for those who love him dearly. As for me, it is the only way I know how to find meaning in Rob's death.
And this brings me to my last point: A hospice nurse once told me that one would think that serving dying patients would be depressing. For her the contrary was true! Time and time again she had witnessed her patients speaking to deceased loved ones; at least, that is what her patients claimed. Quite often they would express how beautiful these people "on the other side" were. What is even more inspiring, the nurse said, is the joyful anticipation of these patients. Some died smiling and others passed-on with their arms stretched out to heaven. It was as if Something was being held out to them- something only they could see; something that was full of promise.
Although Rob was unconscious during the last hours of his life, I am confident that the good Lord offered something to him that was too good to resist. If I live a life of faith, love, and sacrifice, I am equally confident that I too will know and experience exactly what that "Something" is. Therefore, when death greets me, I believe that Rob will be there to greet me too.
Good-bye for now Rob! I hope to see you again under much happier circumstances when "good-byes" will no longer be necessary.