When it's someone in their 90s, we can accept their death more easily. It is still sad. We still mourn them because we miss them. But when it's a young person who dies, it's harder to accept. As Christians, we usually don't allow ourselves to get angry with God. Yet, when we read the psalms, we find that some very holy people got angry with our Creator quite a lot. Even Jesus, from the cross borrowed words from Psalm 22 to express his anguish and anger: My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?
When my grandson drowned I got angry with God. Derek was 22 years old. He died on his sister's 19th birthday. His father, my eldest son, was dying of cancer. It wasn't fair. And then, adding insult to injury, the Gospel reading the next Sunday had something to do with Jesus saving a young person from death. I was so upset that I can't even remember which story it was. Maybe it was the centurian's child. Or the girl, to whom Jesus said, "Talitha cum," or "Little girl, get up." Whichever story it was, when I heard it I was outraged. Why save that child and not my grandson? I don't know. God alone knows the answers to these questions. Death of a loved one is not always easy to accept.
The stories we told after lunch at St. Thomas today were not like the one about my grandson. Most of the people there knew about that already. Our stories were more light-hearted. For example: I think it was Gertrude Stein who, on her deathbed, was moaning, "What is the answer? What is the answer?" And then, finally, she sat up and with her last breath said, "What's the question?"
I think I know the question.
But one more story: The priest told this one: Oscar Wilde was not a rich man when he died. In fact, the room that he was lying in was dingy and dark. As he lay on his bed, facing the ugly old wallpaper, he used his last breath to quip: "One of has got to go!"