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To Be Human

Rainbow over empty beach

This past Sunday, Sue and I were preparing to check out of a hotel in Connecticut where we had stayed for two nights.  The trip had been preplanned to see our grandson, Thomas, a freshman at Wesleyan University, play the drums in two school concerts, one on Friday evening and one on Saturday evening.  The concerts were wonderful and it was a joy to watch Thomas perform so well.

The trip, though, had a sudden second purpose as of Wednesday last week.  That evening we learned that Sue’s younger sister, Nancy, who lives with her husband, Mark, about 20 minutes from the Wesleyan campus, and who had planned to attend the concerts with us, had suddenly passed away.  

Our second purpose, now, was to provide whatever comfort and support we could to Mark and their daughters, as we shared our grief with family.

Nancy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2001 and lived with few symptoms for many years.  The disease started to progress about 10 years ago and Nancy’s quality of life declined as her motor skills and her mental state changed with the progression.

When Sue and I heard the news Nancy had passed, both of us were swept with mixed emotions – we shed many tears over the loss of a person we loved, and, at the same time, we felt much relief that not only were her struggles over, but Mark, who had been providing 24/7 care for Nancy for years, would now be able to get some rest.

So, back to us preparing to check out of the hotel.  As we were finishing the packing, I turned on the TV to catch one of the Sunday morning shows.  The channel that popped up first was a PBS station that was broadcasting the fourth of six episodes of a documentary series, A Brief History of the Future. Episode 4 is titled, Human.  It’s available for viewing here.

The storyline caught my attention and we watched the rest of the hour-long episode.  The focus was on what it means to be human: how we react to life, how we deal with death, how technology is changing us, how we assimilate news, how, at any given moment, we define our purpose for being, how we understand and meet our needs.

I am struck by the serendipity of us already planning to be nearby what turned out to be just a few days after Nancy’s death, and of this documentary “appearing” on the weekend when we were grieving and celebrating simultaneously.   I believe God was especially with us in these moments.

Bob Linderman


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