For six years now, my family has dreaded July 31st. It’s the birthday of my late brother-in-law Cory McCool. Sadly enough, he passed away two days before his 32nd birthday. So, on this day, we find ourselves staring into space and still wondering why he left us so soon. Not only Cory, but there are others in our family that have passed away and we never look forward to those days that use to be so special. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. You’ve probably lost loved ones close to you also and when it’s a birthday, anniversary or something that was special with them, on a specific day, we just dread it coming.
We knew Cory’s birthday was coming and we started dreading it earlier in the week. Yesterday, as I was thinking about him, I made a decision to try and make his birthday a little different this year. I’m tired of asking questions that I’ll never get answered in this life, so instead of only being sad, I thought of three ways that might help on such a dreaded day. Maybe what I decided to do on this day will also help you when you have to deal with one of those difficult days coming up for you and your family.
1. CELEBRATE THEIR LIFE
When I shared my plans about writing this blog with my daughter, she told me something that I would like to share with you. She said, you don’t ever have to feel good about them being gone, but at some point, you have to be ok with it. The grieving never really stops, but you have to learn to accept what has happened. I told her that I agreed and that’s why it is important to celebrate the life that Cory lived. We still don’t understand why he’s gone, but today we choose to talk about how great it was when he was here.
We had such amazing times together with him and he lived a life that made a difference. He loved his family and he loved working for God. I cant even count how many revivals, camp meetings and conferences we worked in together. For years we traveled together, singing, playing music and carrying the gospel and he loved every minute of it. In fact, the last few weeks of his life on this earth, he spent preaching at several churches and encouraging people everywhere. The last church service we were in together was at the church where I pastor in Nashville, TN. He preached a message called, “GRAY MATTERS”. It built our faith so much that it sparked a revival in us that moved our church to a whole new level in God.
That was his life and today, that’s what I choose to celebrate. I encourage you to do the same thing on those days that you dread so much. Sure, I’m still sad and I miss him so much, but the life he did get to live is worth celebrating. I don’t want to only talk about his death, but I want to celebrate his life. His life deserves a celebration.
2. REMEMBER SPECIAL MOMENTS
Today I’m choosing to remember some special moments that we had together. You see, everyone has different personalities. Some people are very serious and leave behind special moments of sincerity. Cory had times when he knew he needed to be serious, but those moments weren’t very often. He loved to cut up and have fun. He learned how to sound like a cricket and when things would get really quiet and awkward, that was his cue to make the cricket sound. People would start looking all around, while Cory just kept a straight face like he didn’t have any idea of what was going on. It wasn’t just animal noises he could mimic, but he could do impressions of all kinds of famous people. I know, because I heard all of them traveling across the nation with him.
On this day, I want to hear about all of those special funny moments with him that made us laugh and love him so much. If I were to start writing down all of the crazy stories, this wouldn’t be a blog, it would be a book. There are so many hilarious moments we had with him and I don’t want to ever forget the sound of his laugh or that delightful smile he always had.
When you have to deal with one of those dreaded days, try to think about the special moments you shared with your loved one. If they made you laugh then, allow their memory to cause you to laugh again. I can promise you, that’s what they would want. Whatever they did that made them stand out, choose to remember it and share their stories with your family and friends.
3. PREPARE TO SEE THEM AGAIN
One of the main things that keeps me going when I start to feel really sad from missing him and others that I have lost in my life, is I know that I’ll see them again. I have to remember, because of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, the grave has no final hold on those who are asleep in Christ. When we say goodbye down here, we’re only separating until we meet again in the presence of God almighty. That is my hope, confidence and assurance.
When a Christian passes way, we may weep for them, but we don’t weep like those that have no hope of ever seeing them again.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (NKJV)
13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
It’s scriptures like this that keep me going. First and foremost, I want to go to heaven to see Jesus. I’m going to bow at His feet and thank Him for dying for me and saving me from sin. In addition to seeing my Savior, I can’t wait to see all of my loved ones and friends that are already there. It is God that created us and also made family and He knows how bad we want to all be together again. That’s why He told us so many times in His Word that He was going away to prepare us a place. I have too much to look forward to in heaven to ever allow anything on this earth to keep me from going there. So, today on Cory’s birthday, we’re reminded that everyone who is prepared, will see him again one day soon.
I hope what I have written this morning is a blessing and an encouragement to you. I’m not saying you won’t ever be sad again, because we’ll always feel that sadness as long as we’re on this earth. However, instead of dreading one of those special days and even going into a dark place of depression, try these three things and honor your loved ones that have already gone on.
Happy Birthday Cory!!! We laughed a lot when you were here with us and we will laugh again!!!