First J.D. Sallinger, now this…

Last week I was marveling at how spot on this article in The Onion was. It was acerbic, witty, and incredibly appropriate. It was just right.

I enjoyed Catcher in the Rye, but Sallinger’s passing wasn’t incredibly meaningful to me. That’s the only work by Sallinger I’ve ever read and he hasn’t done much for a while, so I quietly mourned and quickly moved on. I hadn’t expected to be mourning again so soon.

The man who played a large part in teaching me about Jesus, who contributed greatly to my converting to Christianity, and who was an admirable and appreciated father figure for the last half of my high school years and the beginning of my college career, died earlier today. I hadn’t expected to be too emotionally broken up about it–we’ve spoken only rarely in the last five years since they left Springfield, and his health has been declining for the last fifteen years or more. He is with Christ now, at peace and freed from pain. Yet I wept at church this morning, and it’s a wonder I wasn’t sobbing. My heart was nearly uncontrollable.

I’m ashamed to say that I’ve harbored some bitterness since they left Springfield. They left the church I had gotten saved at soon after I became Christian, and called me only once since they left this town. I called occasionally, but with less frequency as the years passed and I realized that they had… I don’t know. Moved on. In both cases, I felt abandoned, and myself grew more and more distant.

I confronted that bitterness during worship this morning and forgave Melvin, let it go. I knew he was going soon, and the thought was… sad. I don’t know, it wasn’t devastating, because I’m not really devastated. Maybe I’m letting my commitment to the accurate use of words get in the way of emotional expression, but I want to be accurate here. I’m not devastated, but Melvin was someone I relied on. Regardless of the time and distance, I knew I could pick up the phone and call him any time, any day, and he’d be there. He was always willing to talk and always happy to hear from me. My bitterness was… inconscionable. Now I am sad.

Melvin was a great man, and I thank God that I had the opportunity to know him. I can’t understand God’s grace in bringing Melvin into my life, in fact–I have trouble comprehending why God has been so good to me. Anyways, the funeral’s on Wednesday and we’re going to go. The town looks like it’s about 3-4 hours away in Arkansas, so we’ll be trying to come back that night.

Thanks be to God, who gives us victory in Christ. I know it, and presumably it lessens the sorrow. But the sorrow still remains. It always remains.

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