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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Early Easter

Death ended Dad's Lenten journey

"Do you think I'll still be here for my birthday?"

That sounds like a straightforward enough question. But what did Dad mean? "Will I still be here in the hospital on my birthday?" Or "Will I still be alive? Will I still be here at all?"

Mom and I didn't know which question Dad was asking. And after months of tests, drugs, therapy and more tests, we didn't know the answer to either one of those questions. We'd been hopeful and hopeless so often, by turns, that we'd given up trying to predict what might come next.

Dad's birthday was to fall on Good Friday that year. One day remembering Dad's question, I found myself thinking: "He won't live to see Easter." And then, in faith, I corrected myself: "He'll see Easter before the rest of us."

Dad died and was buried in Lent. The pastors officiating at the funeral wore their purple stoles. We mourners were dressed mostly in black and gray. As I looked at the funeral pall covering the casket, I was struck by the glorious contrast: Only Dad was wearing white. While the rest of us were still in the midst of our Lenten journey, Dad was — and is — truly celebrating Easter.


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