The stories people tell at funerals.
We were burying Christine, a woman who would soon have been ninety. A good friend, Donna, remembered how she complained and whined to Christine about some recent changes in church worship, and after a few weeks of this Christine just said, “Get over it. Move on.” Donna was stunned: Here was this nice woman, her close friend for decades who was telling her in a loving way to shut up! Donna just laughed at the wisdom of it.
Move on. That was Christine. She had heart attacks and strokes, she had sores on her feet that would not heal because the circulation was so bad and the bones were showing through, and yet she didn’t complain about her health. I would visit her and she would look right at me and smile (though she could only see my shadow, so advanced was her macular degeneration). She endured her pain and moved on.
Nine years ago her husband died. She grieved for Dan, who was the love of her life—had been since she was fifteen. But she didn’t curl up and waste away. She honored their love by living. She found people she could love and serve, often the neediest.
Years ago, Christine had told me, their daughter took up with a strange, cultish group who required her to cut off her family. They did everything they could to bring their daughter back, and nothing worked; the estrangement became absolute. They didn’t know where she was. She literally disappeared from their lives. They did everything they could, Christine said, and then she and Dan let it go. “We gave it to God,” she said.
I love that. My generation is more likely to go to a therapist and spend eight or ten years talking about “how paralyzed I am by my struggle and pain.” Giants like Christine show us how to look clearly and coldly at reality, to do everything we can do, and then—move on. Love life not as you fantasize about it, but as it really is. Trust that when you can’t hold it together anymore, there is a greater One who can hold it for you. Move with confidence and as much peace and happiness as you can muster into the life you have been given, claim its joys despite its trials, and help others to find their peace and joy as well. That is a life well lived.