While attending the homegoing service of 38 year old Corie Hampton, at the Rock Pentecostal Apostolic Church in Plantersville under the leadership of Bishop Ledentry and Mary Forster, many thoughts concerning death flooded my mind. I knew Corie and have known her mother, Debra, for years.
In describing Corie, eulogist Nathan Brown said, “She couldn’t cook; ate bologna sandwiches; babysat my children and practically lived in our house… but most of all she was a kind individual.” His sermon was entitled – ‘Good News from the Grave – Another Soldier Gone Home.’” He ministered about the attributes of a good soldier.
While listening to the sermon, I pondered on how one deals with the death of a child. Normally, you think the child will outlive you and will be there to take care of you.
I remembered when my sister, Barbara, lost her only child, Milton, in a tragic car accident. Many people offered comforting words such as: “It will get better as times goes by; as long as he was saved; as long as he made it right with the Lord; and, as long as you know he went to heaven …” Wonderful, encouraging words, but the truth of the matter is, even if you are at peace with all those words – the reality is – Milton’s gone and he’s not coming back. I thought about my precious father dying when I was nine; and, my brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, and dear friends who are now deceased. The pain of losing a loved one hurts. I felt Ms. Debra’s pain.
Eulogist Brown said, and I paraphrase, “What will people say about us after we leave this earth? Will my wife or husband say I was good spouse? Will my neighbor say I was a good neighbor? Will my children say I was a good father or mother? Will my boss say I was a good employee? Will my sister or brother say I was a good sibling? What will my community say? Will my Pastor say I was a good member? What will the Lord say about you… I want the Lord to say, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant – welcome home’…”
I remembered sitting at First Baptist Church, years ago, listening to Ricky Young beautifully singing the song – “I Can Only Imagine.” The words to the song pricked my soul – “I can only imagine what it will be like, when I walk by Your side, I can only imagine, what my eyes will see, when Your Face is before me! I can only imagine. Surrounded by Your Glory, what will my heart feel? Will I dance for you, Jesus? Or in awe of You, be still? Will I stand in Your presence, or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing ‘Hallelujah!’? Will I be able to speak at all? I can only imagine!”
As I sat there, with tears streaming, thinking about death, and imagining that glorious place, my thoughts were, “What is the Lord saying about me, and will He say to me, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant.’”
Author Stephen Levine said, “If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?”
Are there people in my life that I need to forgive or ask them to forgive me? Am I a good neighbor, friend, parent, employee, sibling, church member, community activist, etc. Do I treat people the same regardless of the color of skin or whether they are rich or poor? Have I been a servant like our Master? Have I helped when I could, when it was in my power to do so? Or, have I ignored problems and situations?
Activist Huey Newton said, “My fear was not death itself, but a death without meaning.” When you die – will it be a death with meaning or a death without meaning? Will He say ‘Well done’? You be the judge.
Juanita Gambrell Floyd is vice president for Finance and Administration at CREATE Foundation. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.