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Some years ago I officiated at a wedding in which the bridegroom sang to his bride, something that was new to me. I had a private wager within myself that he would not be able to complete the song without the emotion of the moment overcoming him. Well, he did but I didn't!! You see the bride was my only daughter.

I can't recall much about the song but there was one line in it which brought me undone. It talked about the time that would eventually come when "one of us will lay the other down in the arms of Jesus".  By the time the song was done, I was a mess! I think that was the first time I was confronted by the reality that such a day will come for Bev and myself.

Last week we received news of the death of a dear friend. This couple we have known for close to 40 years. Her death has left a devoted husband and 3 children to regroup and, in due course, press on into their future without her. All the initial indicators suggest that he is realistically engaging with the grieving process. But he has now "laid her down in the arms of Jesus".

Sometimes I try to imagine what that will be like. I'm not obsessed with the scenario but I do wonder when I hear about situations and attend funerals where one  partner releases the other through death. I sometimes find my throat tightening and my eyes moistening. The effect of such reflective anticipation is to make me grateful for every day with my life partner of 48 years.

Finally, I have to believe that the enabling, empowering grace of God will be equal to the occasion (and then some). The prospect of that separation seems almost too great to contemplate. But grace will be there when needed. So, with that assurance, I thank the Lord for this day and every day.

I can hardly believe it! I am sitting here trying to think of a way to conclude this article when an email arrives from our bereaved friend. What he wrote perfectly expresses what I have been trying to say. I will withdraw and, with his full permission, let him have the final word.

"Anyway, the events surrounding Chelle's passing were extraordinary for me and had the finger prints of our God all over them. I mentioned that, on the morning before, she had read some poems but I forgot to mention one detail. She read in almost a normal voice – for the last few days she could only speak in a whisper – and when she had finished reading she looked straight at me to say that she thought she was being called home but when she looked up I was taken aback. Her eyes had been quite droopy for days but then they were wide open and they weren't her normal grey-green colour – they were an intense, deep, opal, 3D blue! Before I hugged her, for the last time, I had the very strong sense that somehow I had been privileged to see into another dimension.

Then on the Saturday night I lay in the bed beside her listening to her breathing and waiting for it to stop and particularly from 12 till 4 I had an overwhelming sensation of peace and calm and a number of times I reflected on it and how strange it was that in this situation I should be totally at peace. I had told her I wanted to be there at the end to see some angels but there weren't any that I could see…though I did drop off for about half an hour around 2am so maybe that was when they came!!"

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