I don't know if it's because I am getting older or if there are just a lot more people who are dying. In February, two therapists who I knew died on the same day! And their deaths, along with a movie that I recently watched, helped me to think about death in an entirely new way.
"Taking Chance" is a 2009 historical that was nominated for 24 awards including 9 Emmy Awards. It won 6 of these, including the Best Actor award which was presented to Kevin Bacon for his portrayal of Lt. Col. Michael R. Stroble.
Every night Col. Stroble reviewed the casualty lists from the Middle East and when he discovered a name from his hometown, he decided to volunteer to escort the remains back to the family for burial. Private First Class Chance Phelps was the 19 year old United States Marine killed in Iraq who was assigned for escort to Col. Stroble.
The movie chronicles the true story of how Phelps' body was returned from battle to Dover Port Mortuary in Delaware where it was treated with the utmost respect, prepared for the long journey to Wyoming and then given a funeral that was attended by friends and family as well as every veterans' organization within 90 miles of the small rural community.
Staff at Dover Port Mortuary knew it was going to be a closed casket ceremony, but they still made every effort to make sure that PFC Phelps was prepared and dressed perfectly. As the casket and Col. Stroble travelled from Dover through Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Billings, people showed respect. They didn't know the Marine, his family or the circumstances but they honoured the fact that he had lived and died for his country.
After a memorial event held in a local bar the night before the funeral, Col. Stroble admitted to a Korean War veteran that he also had been eligible for a tour of duty himself in Iraq but, because he wanted to be home with his wife and family, he put in for office duty instead and it was granted. He was feeling guilty but the wise veteran stated that there is no shame in loving family and that Col. Stroble was now a witness for Phelps and responsible for his legacy.
When someone we know and love dies, each of us examines not only their life but also our own life. We remember the things that they did and said and stood for. We show respect and give thanks for their life. And we help to keep their legacy alive.
Easter is a time when we think about the life of Jesus and how his life has impacted our own. We each choose if or how we will keep his legacy alive. Imagine - people have been doing this for almost 2,000 years!
How will you celebrate Easter this year - and in the years to come?
I hope that it will mean more to you than just a couple of days off work?
Happy Easter, everyone!