The righteous, though they die early, will be at rest. For old age is not honored for length of time, or measured by number of years; but understanding is grey hair for anyone, and a blameless life is ripe old age. There were some who pleased God and were loved by him, and while living among sinners were taken up. They were caught up so that evil might not change their understanding or guile deceive their souls. For the fascination of wickedness obscures what is good, and roving desire perverts the innocent mind. Being perfected in a short time, they fulfilled long years; for their souls were pleasing to the Lord, therefore he took them quickly from the midst of wickedness. Yet the peoples saw and did not understand, or take such a thing to heart, that God’s grace and mercy are with his elect, and that he watches over his holy ones.
I don't deceive myself into thinking that Nick was a saint -- far from it. But every year I hear this, and I get a lump in my throat. I think about a man gone too soon and I wonder Why? The reading comes with a double-edged sword, for it reminds me of how good a man Nick was -- and he really was a good man -- and it makes me ache and miss him and mourn anew.
And yet it also assures me that he is at rest, that God's grace and mercy are upon him. If you've read my story, The Terrible Story, you know that I truly believe that. As horrible and brutal as Nick's dying was, it was also incredibly merciful. He -- and we who love him -- was spared so much suffering. I will always be grateful for that.
Tonight, the boys and I will go to liturgy; we'll light candles and say the memorial prayers for Nick; we'll sing the hymns and partake of the feast; and I will get all weepy.
Blame it on the incense.