I’ve been to two funerals on Valentine’s Day. A time where couples cuddle, exchanging chocolates and roses, instead brings for me a certain somber tone.
Robin was my aunt. I loved her like a second mother. When chaos would ensue in my abusive alcoholic upbringing she was the one I would run away to. Her death was much too soon and she will be forever missed and cherished in our hearts.
Counseling books will tell you that there are five stages to the grieving process; denial, bartering, anger, depression and finally, acceptance. Once she died I went straight to depression. In an effort to alleviate my pain, I became engulfed in drugs. I wanted to escape but instead I became enslaved. In pursuit of freedom, I found chains.
I remember Ray, a talented bass player on the worship team, genuine and sincere; he truly had a heart of gold. He was the kind of guy who’d give you the shirt off his back. He was killed in a tragic car accident one early morning as the desert sun came up to meet him for one last serenade. It was a closed casket funeral and I was one of the people/brothers to shovel dirt on the coffin. As we headed back into the gathering for the memorial service I hid in the restroom to take my elixir of pharmaceutical grade opiates, muscle relaxers, and Xanax in hopes of drowning the pain and numbing myself to the vicious cycle I was in. I left Vegas three days later…
Robin died nine years ago and Ray seven. It has been a long journey now approaching seven years of sobriety on February 19th. I’m a better man for it. Robin and Ray would be proud. I miss them terribly at times. I know that they are in the better place now, beyond eternity’s shore.
In 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 Apostle Paul mentions the “third heaven.” Many people have wondered what the number reference is to and some cults have even built doctrine surrounding this somewhat obscure passage. Here is what I’ve learned: the first heaven is the one that we can look at right now and behold the birds flying, hear the wind whispering, and watch the lightening split the sky. The second heaven is the celestial plane where the cosmos collides in a vast array of giant sizes and fascinating colors, God’s beautiful handiwork. And the third heaven? It’s simply the place where God is. It is the better place. The dimension we cannot see but someday will. And right now Robin and Ray are there worshiping the Creator and waiting for us. We are but breaths away, only moments until morning’s final wake when the Son will come up and greet us, too.
“Any time you see the stars, You know that I’m not very far.”
Let that be the song that Robin, Ray and lost loved ones sing over us.
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