I have been reading a lot about death and near death experiences. I guess I have wanted to know what Perry was feeling- was he afraid, who did he go with?
One thing that struck me was that many of the things I have learned from his death(or were reinforced) are the same things that the dying will teach if they feel inclined and are allowed.
Here are a few concepts:
Everything material is pretty much plastic junk or paper. The only things that matter here are our relationships, with God and others.
Every person matters.
Good people are how we see Christ- they are the body of Christ on this earth.
We will have to face the results of our actions, both good and bad. Paying for them may be a matter of grace, but in the end we will review our lives. Did we really do the best we could to make amends (actions if possible, words if not) or was it just verbal pyrotechnics and illusions to make ourselves feel better? Did we seek amends and do things that made the other person feel better or only things that we were willing to do, just enough to put in earplugs and ignore the small whispering voice? Maybe we just spoke a couple words and didn't act out the rest of the relationship in love, without the words really meaning anything. Did we truly acknowlege the full extent of the pain and hurt caused?
Words and actions are complicated things that have waves that ripple outward. One not in sync with the other can be just as damaging as a lie. Everything is called into question, not just the bad.
I wondered why I came to these conclusions. Part of it may be that as a parent whose child has died, I contemplate many of the same things as the dying do: "Where do we go? Is there really a God? Does he hear me?". You can be saved but you might still question when reality stares you in the eye and doesn't flinch.
I think the other part, maybe the larger, is the life review. I am sure adults review their lives to be able to come to closure and accept what is coming. Adults who lose children review their own lives, searching for the crumbs to tell them why this has happened to their family, and to answer the nagging question "Was I a good parent?". It is also part of a search for closure, although we may not see it as such. If you allow it, you follow all the paths of your life, the branches you chose to follow, and how it affected other people and not just your child.
I think it can be very meaningful if you go into a review of your life with humbleness, trying to learn, and not with preconceived notions. You can see your greatest achievements... (they are actually not professional or club related; not the ones listed repeatedly in many adult memorials) they are you relationships. Did you love others enough, did you accept it when it was offered? And the blaring failures- the girl in elementary school you didn't stand up for openly, the people you didn't bother to know because of the way they dressed or hygiene.
One author said that some patients that were dying explained that they were groaning not from pain but the images and past actions they wrestled with. Eventually many work through it- some asking for solitude at this time as they played 'the movies' in their head.
It's a lot to take in.
Eventually, during the review you reach the present. If you choose to keep your glasses you continue the review as you go about daily life.
I think if you review you life honestly, it is the first step in accountability.
But unlike the dying, who do not have the blessing of time, parents are left to contemplate. They can change for good or ill, but they may have years to fix, amend, or go down a new pathway. And while the dying can immerse themselves in the coming and in things ethereal; they can stop eating because it no longer matters, they do not have to clean or chase after a small girl, we are pulled back into the everyday reality. We have to balance the good we can do with our money (and the necessities we need to buy with it) with the cost to achieve it. We can then choose to integrate these things or ignore them (although I guess you will be forced to review them again later). We can choose to lay these glasses aside.
Laying aside the glasses, however, does not change reality.
I think there is a value in reviewing your life that even a person untouched yet by a close death can gain. It is uncomfortable at times, wonderful in other moments.
But sadly I don't think that many people bother. At best they review the past minute or year and attempt to justify the bad they did or identify the failures of others so they can point a finger. Perhaps they review their financial past because they can touch and feel the material, but ignore the personal because that is uncomfortable or doesn't fit neatly in a ledger.
There is no true justification of a bad deed formed with ill intent or with chosen ignorance. Understanding maybe.
Letting go of bad things done to you is the only way you can release the rope they tie around your feet that hobbles you.
But these are hard concepts to teach. Harder ones to live. I struggle with them.
Stop living in the moment, looking forward only through this next week or looking in one direction. Turn around and look back- sometimes you see a side of things you could never see from behind or as they are even with you. Seek to find the good and the negative in yourself. Do not use it as only a pummeling or as a celebration.
Face your life as it was. It is the only way to change what it is now and what it will be in the future.
It is life altering.