This is actually not based on the verse I was given for today, but today is different. I just learned that someone I know died this morning. Her name is Ros Shirley, but I originally knew her as Miss Verduzco. I took Spanish lessons from her when I was in the Fourth Grade and in the Fifth Grade she was my teacher. She was young and pretty and fun, and I believe she remained that way her whole life. We were reconnected about 20 years ago and became friends as grown ups.
It has been a hard few years for Ros. First her husband died. Then one of her daughters. And then she suddenly had an aggressive form of cancer that took her very quickly. I am thankful that Ros is no longer suffering, but my heart aches especially for her daughter who has endured all this with her mother, and now her mother has died as well.
When Jesus’ good friend, Lazarus, died, Jesus went back to Bethany just outside of Jerusalem to be with Lazarus’ sisters, Martha and Mary. Everyone was grieving, including Jesus. Everyone was crying, including Jesus. Both Martha and Mary proclaimed to Jesus that if he had only been around their brother would not have died. But Jesus wasn’t there. And Lazarus did die and was buried in a cave.
When Jesus told mourners from the village to remove the stone at the entrance to the tomb, Martha reminded him that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days and, in the words of the King James Version, “He stinketh.”
Still, Jesus called to Lazarus and told him to come out of the tomb and the next thing they knew Lazarus appeared, still bound up in the strips of cloth in which he had been buried. “Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’” (John 11: 44b)
Let him go. We can’t keep him here and we shouldn’t even try. It’s one of the hardest things there is to do in life – to let go of someone we love when they die. I do believe that love never dies. But people do, and it hurts. It’s hard to let go and it takes a while. Grief lasts as long as it lasts. The truth is that although eventually we learn to live again ourselves, nothing will ever be the same.
I am thankful that I knew Miss Verduzco when I was a child. She taught me things I have never forgotten. 52 years ago she taught me a song in Spanish called “Los Pollitos”. I still remember it. I actually recorded myself singing this song and sent it to her when she first got sick a few weeks ago.
“Los pollitos dicen pío, pío, pío
cuando tienen hambre
cuando tienen frío.
La gallina busca el maíz y el trigo
les da la comida y les presta abrigo.
Bajo de sus alas, acurrucaditos
¡duermen los pollitos
hasta el otro día!”
I am thankful that I was reacquainted with Ros after I grew up and we became friends. She has been a source of support, encouragement, and humor for me these last few years.
I am thankful for her life. But her death stinketh.