life, death, and “happy Terry Fox”

Life: Existence, yes. But also all that brings joy, peace, wholeness and unity. Synonyms are vivacity, sprightliness, vigor, verve, activity, energy.

Death: The end of life. Destruction. The absence of joy, peace, wholeness and unity. Synonyms include decease, demise, passing, departure.

Life has been on my mind lately. Julie and I are eagerly anticipating the birth our 2nd child - the entry of new life into our family and the world. I can’t wait!

But death lingers in my mind as well, especially when my 3-year-old asks me, “Where’s Terry Fox Daddy?”

You see, this past weekend we took our son to participate in his first Terry Fox Run. We explained to him how Terry got sick and lost his leg. But then courageously ran with a metal leg. Our son liked that part. He’s mesmerized by video of Fox running. But he didn’t like the part about Terry Fox dying. “I want to see happy Terry Fox” my son exclaimed as we watched clips of Terry’s Marathon of Hope online. I found myself emotional as my innocent 3-year-old naively expressed this deep human aversion to death.

As I reflect on these mixed experiences, I realize how easy it is to compartmentalize life and death. The birth of a child - life! The passing of a loved one - death... But life experience tells me it’s never that simple. On the day our child is born, thousands of children around the world - just as deserving as ours - will suffer and even die. Ever since Terry Fox’s tragic death, life has been breathed into communities around the world, celebrating Terry’s example and raising millions of dollars to preserve life through cancer research. Life and death together. It’s perplexing.

In this messiness of life and death, I’m starting to realize that death doesn’t have to mean the end of life. On Sunday, amongst the crowd of Terry Fox Run participants, there was hope, life. People rallied to support a worthy cause. Terry’s inspiring memory leads people to create their own memories. In some ways, the annual Terry Fox Run is our attempt to overcome death, however limited or incomplete. In Terry’s death, there is still life. We are resilient.

As a Christian, I place such human resilience in the context of a greater hope. This life at the Terry Fox Run or through the birth of my child, are reflections of my ultimate hope in the face of death. This is a hope that my son’s desire to see “happy Terry Fox” isn’t merely sentimental. This hope is real - a hope that one day death will finally be overcome.

God will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Rev. 21:4 NIV).


Anonymous said...

Well put:)

David Warkentin said...


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