“When One Door Closes, Another Opens”

As with most clichés, that phrase can mean a lot of different things in different situations.  Myriads of meanings in flexible situations are the reasons that some grain of truth can usually be found in any cliché.  So whether you like clichés or not, they offer the opportunity to see a foundation of truth in any given situation.

Today is August 28th, but events that happened on August 24th are what started the thought process that has me drilling for that foundation of truth on which to build my understanding of How Things Happen And Why They Do.  On the morning of August 24th I received an email from a cousin, a broadcast message sent to the whole family:

Dear Family,

Every August 24 my family celebrates a very special anniversary.

It was exactly five years ago today that our then 27-year old daughter Victoria, re-awoke from the aftermath of repeated surgeries to remove a brain tumor. The surgeries were successful but her recovery took almost three years and at times was very much in doubt. Until the evening of August 24, 2009…

…It gives me great joy to share her story with my family.

Here was a cause for grief – a vibrant young woman is struck down by disease, a brain tumor.  Her life thankfully spared, yet what of her personality?  Yes, cause for grief but within that grief a seed of hope.  It was a long recovery but a recovery nonetheless.  So now there is celebration!  A birthday celebration of sorts, accompanied by a gladness that comes from the happy resolution of a situation in doubt, bringing appropriate and well earned joy to a family which is then shared with the extended family.  Joy and happiness spread like ripples in a pond.  The recovery was apparently so remarkable that the treatment facility made a short video of the family describing the experience which you can see here.


Later that same day…

My wife’s phone rang, and it was her father on the line with an inevitable and unwelcome announcement:

“She’s gone.”

His wife, my mother-in-law had just passed away, no longer able to fight her own malignant brain tumors.  She was a good woman who had beaten cancer on more than one occasion in her life, yet there was to be no recovery this time.   Within moments of her passing, the telephone calls were made;  text messages and e-mails sent.  Grief spread in ever widening circles…more ripples on the pond.  Certainly it is appropriate to grieve when someone we love dies.  As it was in this case, we loved her and wished for her to stay with us.  But then, as is the way of the world, we do not always get what we want.  Nor in this case should we, though it is especially hard for those of us who have never lived in a world without her in it, who are now forced over that threshold into a world forever changed.  Grief is appropriate.  Grief is natural.  We should and will grieve deeply for our loss.

There was no recovery – or was there?  Wasn’t this…a birthday of sorts…for her?  Because when the door to this world closes, the door to heaven opens.  Though she left us behind on this world, she has experienced a recovery so profound that she lives now in a state of perfect grace where she no longer suffers from any pain, fatigue or anxiety.  She is only gone from here.    Grief is appropriate.  Grief is natural.  We should and will grieve deeply for our loss.  But within that grief, let us leave a seed of joy.  Joy for the good things she did.  Joy for the happiness she made us feel.  Joy for a world that was made better by her presence in it, a world priveliged by her partaking of it.  A world bettered by her legacy left to it.  Joy in the knowledge that when it is our time and a door closes behind  us, as the door opens in front of us she will be waiting!  So while we may grieve, may we celebrate as well!

Yes, she is gone…from here.  But she is not gone from us.  For when one door closes, another opens.