Death impacts us.
A week ago a friend of mine died.
Not someone I saw regularly.
But someone who was/is of importance to me.
Someone who is part of my history.
We have lived in separate places for most of our lives but our paths have crossed enough for connections to have continued. We met as children on Groote Eylandt. One of my clearest memories of her from that era was when I was 13 and was baptised and confirmed in October 1988. That night I stayed at Angurugu at her families place. At a lonely time in my life - she was a friend.
Some years later (1997), in what felt like another lifetime, I was at a national conference for an organisation that I was a volunteer with (and now work for) and there was Krysti, also heavily involved with this organisation. That week established our connection as adults - and people who cared passionately about our faith and seeing young people connect with and find real the person of Jesus. We also had some deep personal conversations around some of life history which also brought us closer. There was also some late nights of fun!
About 5 years later, Krysti came to Melbourne (where I lived at the time) to study at Bible College. Again connections continued. Not frequent but several during her time in Melbourne - enough to continue the friendship and the sense of connection around a shared history and shared passions in the present. And again a sense of fun.
Krysti returned to Darwin. Facebook continued our connection. And then in 2009 my uncle was seriously ill in Darwin - and Krysti once again was a friend, at a time when that is so what I needed. As soon as she heard, she showed her care and arranged for me to stay with her parents. She (and her family) had me over for dinner and we once again shared some significant moments of conversation - in the midst of one of the most stressful weeks of my life. Her presence, her actions and our conversations continued to help me be grounded in the One who was her, and my, source of hope and peace.
And now she has died. A journey of 18 months or so. A husband and two children. A life that has been well lived. A life that has been lived with passion. A strong sense by people close to her that she is now with the One she most loved. Deep grief for many who knew her - especially those closest.
I've felt the distance this last week.
I'm in Perth; I wanted to be in Darwin.
I've been thankful that I've been working in an organisation where a few people know of her - and know of her death. There is something about that connection that makes it easier.
I've been very conscious of those who are the closest people to her - having known something of deep grief myself, they have not been far from my thoughts and prayers this last week.
I've also been conscious of how death affects us - from whatever the point of our relationship to a person. For each of us the story is different. But its impact is profound - and not necessarily just for the closest. For me this week, I've felt a sense of isolation and disconnection - as I grieve the passing from this life of a friend who has shared some significant moments and have no co-grievers around me. There has been a deep sense of feeling for her family and those others closest to her. Along with that, there has been a thankfulness for her life full of faith, hope and passion and once again grief has plunged me into living fully in the moment that I find myself and being fully myself - embracing faith, hope and passion in the place that I find myself. Once again, I experience the journey of grief which embraces the "both/and" of such different emotions and thoughts and I find myself know something of the mysterious comfort of the "God of all comfort" and praying that those closest are also experiencing something of that comfort.