I had a DOA call this morning from the city police. It pretty much woke me up out of bed. I drove out to the address and found the officer and the “family” and the deceased all there. It broke my heart.
I’d been in places like this before. It was the proverbial wrong side of the trax. The house was quite literally falling apart. There was every type of junk possible strewn about in such a way as to elicit the question, “How do things get to this level of disarray?” Those gathered there were a family in a rather loose sense. The smell of pets was in the air, in the carpet, in the furniture. The smell of death was growing.
And there on the bed was the body. Rigor and lividity had set in. Whatever warmth had been in the body had left hours ago. This person had been a rather frail, fragile person in life, owing in large part to drug use and hard living. The corpse couldn’t have weighed more than a buck-oh-five. The instant of death may have been relatively peaceful, but the years leading up to that moment were anything but that.
A torrent of thoughts has been running through my head all morning. How many others have died, and are going to die, as alone as this or worse? This one was taken in in the last months of life by someone. What was the condition of this person’s eternal salvation? How is it that we can turn our backs on those who live in such a way? How can we help?
The thought that dominated, though, was that death is absolutely not natural. That is, it happens naturally enough, but anyone who has seen a body dead–not embalmed, not made up and dressed for display–must in some way understand that it is not natural. It’s not the way the body was intended to be. The absolute lack of function; the lack of color; the stench; that it can lie in the middle of the room while others in the room can carry on an entirely casual and other conversation around it; these are not, as it were, natural.
Thank God for resurrection. Thank God that when that may happen to me it is not the end of the story. Being that near to death certainly does provide a new angle on life and resurrection. It just became more amazing to me today.