A friend of a friend of mine just lost his mother. He is in his twenties and they have had a tumultuous relationship due to her decades-long alcoholism. He had just returned from living abroad for an extended period of time and had only been back for over a week. Their relationship had been strained and painful for him, and she was known and gossiped about as the town drunk.
Then one morning, he found her in bed, dead. She had not been dead for that long when he found her. He, being in the next room, had not heard a thing.
My friend recounted to me how he had described his last night with his mother. He had cooked her dinner and it was the first time that they had sat together and talked in years. He said it was a proper talk, no fighting, and that it had given him hope. That very same night, with no indication, she suffered a massive heart attack and died.
Everyone had always talked about how it would happen, whether it would be an overdose, or something related. Ultimately, a premature death for her was predicted as inevitable after the way she had abused her body for most of her life.
So now he is struggling to understand why God would take his mother just as they had began to make amends. It does seem like particularly awful timing, but it could have been worse. They could have had a fight that night. Or he could have still have been abroad and lived with the guilt of not having been there, to try to make things right.
So I will keep him in my prayers and hope that God bestows graces on him that will bring good out of this terribly painful tragedy. This reminds me of when Obama's grandmother died the night before he was elected president. If one had no faith, her death epitomized the cruel randomness and injustice of our world. But through the lens of faith, it illustrates the often tragic poetry of life... and necessarily keeps one humble so we do not exalt ourselves. Particularly when God asks big things of us, I think we can also expect Him to remind us who is in ultimately in charge.