I have a parishioner who is dying…
…that’s news that is nothing new to me. I have had a number of parishioners die in the 4 1/2 years I have been here. All of them are hard; being with families as they mourn…you can almost feel their pain and loss. But this week I am being quickly reminded that the longer I am here the more difficult these times become. And I think it is especially hard this time since my wife and I have become so close to Lyle. I try not to play favorites but one can not help but develop closer relationships with certain people. And with Lyle, he has become something of a grandpa to Connie and I.
Lyle is nearing the end with a long bought with cancer. Last year his wife died and I know that has been extremely hard for him (and all of us). These past few days I have spent a lot of time at the hospital with the family and with Lyle. Yesterday we thought he was going to go home. He was saying “Good bye everyone“. The family huddle around him to say good bye then he said, “Pastor, pastor” I said said, “I am right here Lyle“. “Please tell Connie for me“. Tears started streaming down my face. That was Monday…
…today is Tuesday and Lyle is still with us. Part of me is glad (the selfish side) because I get more time with him. But another part of me is wishing he could/would go home, because he is dealing with some pain. I am torn. But what is getting me and the whole family through is that Lyle is so ready to go home. His faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior is stronger than I have seen in anyone. And knowing (and seeing that) it is easier for us to say “see you later“.
I can’t begin to name all the things Lyle has done for the church and others, but there is one thing I want to share; something I have and will continue to miss. In most churches acolytes take care of lighting the candles up front…if not the kids then the ushers. Here at Salem we don’t have many kids but I never had to think about the candles, because Lyle took it upon himself to see they were lit. If my acolytes didn’t show up and another student walked in, Lyle would see to it they lit the candles. But who every lit them you had better light them in the right order (yes…there is a correct order to light and extinguish the candles). Lyle was never mean about it, but he would educate on the correct way. These past couple months Lyle hasn’t been able to be at worship and I haven’t gotten used to checking on the candles. I am not sure if I ever will.
Lyle will be missed by many. And I will be forever grateful for how he took Connie and me under his wing. Lyle became a grandpa to us and just like any grandpa I wish I had more time with him. But more than anything, I am eternally grateful to God who send his son to die for us that we may live. And because of that I will see Lyle again and I look forward to introducing him to you someday.
Praise be to God!