But this time was different. Aside from the fact that none of us likes to see others suffer the loss of a loved one; there was nothing about this gathering to make anyone feel uncomfortable. You see, the deceased was an Alzheimer’s victim. Many of us have gone to church with him and his wife for years. We knew him before his brain and body were assaulted by this devastating disease.
Ralph didn’t talk much, but he always had a big smile and a firm handshake for everyone. His wife, Drema, is grace and charm personified. They were a perfect match. The question in everyone’s mind is, “Why?” Why do lovely people like these have to be beset by such a hideous illness?
In fact, why does anyone?
From Sunday to Sunday, we watched the gradual decline in Ralph. As it worsened, one couldn’t help but think he’d be much better off if God, in His mercy, would rescue him. But our ways are not His ways, so we had to wait and watch as this sweet man suffered, first, the humiliation, and then, the pain that this disease inflicts upon its victims – and watch his family suffer right along with him.
As the illness progressed, they had to stop coming to church. We missed them, but knew they were going through a rough time. Ralph had falls that resulted in visits to the hospital and subsequent home health care. We all knew it wouldn’t be long.
The mood at the funeral home visitation almost seemed like one of relief: relief that Ralph’s suffering is finally over and that his loved ones can stop worrying about him complicating matters even more by falling and breaking a bone or worse.
Drema, looking beautiful, stood near the coffin greeting guests. Her brother stood beside her. To their right, their 90-something year-old mother sat in a comfortable chair, also greeting guests. She was as delightful as always and very pretty, too – wearing a royal blue blouse that emphasized her sky-blue eyes.
Lovely flowers surrounded the casket. The entire scene was moving and inspiring.
What a distressing ordeal Ralph, Drema and their family have been through! But it's finished now. Tonight, Ralph is in his Heavenly home, whole and well – smiling and shaking hands again. The pain and suffering are over.
God has indeed rescued him.