What Death Does

It's been almost a month since my grandmother, Bebe, passed away. And it's safe to say that today, I am a different person than I was a month ago because of what death does. bebe

Death surprises. No matter how long it takes to get to the moment, death only takes a moment. And that brevity forces me to face the brevity of my life. And facing the brevity of life makes me angry. Because I don't want to live for a short time. I want to live for a very long time.

Death tricks. It convinces me that if I can live for a very long time then there's a greater chance for my life to have meaning. It says I shouldn't be afraid of the end coming too soon, but the end coming before I can do something worth remembering.

Death lies. It tells me that that my grandmother's obituary needed more accomplishments, more accolades, and more anything. It tells me that the achievements and accolades and clips I stack up are what matter. It tells me my life and my name are what I should live for.

Death whispers, "If your life can't be great, then you're wasting it."

But Life tells a different story altogether.

Life persists. Despite generations of death and disease and war, life continues. There is something about the human body that fights to live, even in its last moments. There is something about humanity that continues to push forward toward eternity, because life wasn't made to end.

Life serves. Unlike death that greedily tells me to live for me, life tells me to live for anyone but me. It tells me that true joy comes when I give my life away to other people.

Life loves. Life reminds me that no matter what I do, it is who I am that matters. And who I am and what I do have been fully and forever separated by the work of Life defeating Death in Jesus. 

And if I forget that truth, Life whispers gently to me, "You may be sleeping, but I am here to wake you up."

Losing a loved one.

  Did you know that my first name isn't Claire?

It's Beverly.


I was born on February 10, fifty-six years after my grandmother. My parents decided to put her name on my birth certificate, and in that, we shared two things: a birthday and a first name.

As I grew into a young girl, I couldn't wait to spend time with the older Beverly. My Bebe. Her house was the one where we could play Hungry, Hungry, Hippos. Her house had the huge mirror in the back, where we could watch ourselves dance. The bedroom I slept in at Bebe's house had a Popeye the Sailor Man lamp. The yard was lined with trees. Small ones I could climb in. And for many years, there was a stump in the back yard we could jump on and off. Once, my cousin William did a back-flip off that stump.

There was a garage behind her house I never went in.

But when I spent good time with Bebe, it wasn't in her home town, Augusta. It was in St. Simons Island. At Christmas, she was always the same. So warm and welcoming and big-arms around you loving you. I remember she'd bring out crackers and cheese. She'd offer a tin of cheese sticks and her famous, homemade fudge.

And she was always so generous.

She was the grandmother that bought me treats in the grocery store. The one that stuffed envelopes with surprises. She helped me buy my very first laptop. She wrote me letters and always encouraged me to write down my stories. She clipped out newspaper stories she thought would interest me, and sent them to me in the mail.

In a word, she was wonderful.

A few years ago, she moved to St. Simons. Her mind was still sharp as a whip, but her body began moving more and more slowly. And then, last week, she took a hard fall that sent her to the hospital. But she'd been to the hospital after a fall. It didn't seem out of the ordinary.

But two days in the hospital seemed unusual.

And four days was unprecedented.

And pneumonia wasn't part of the plan.

And then, it was over.

Beverly Beeland Carlton

February 10, 1931 - July 10, 2013 

The horror of it all.

If you're anything like me, this week has been a punch in the gut. It started with a bombing, followed by ricin-filled envelopes, followed by an explosion that killed more, and a manhunt that feels like a live action packed movie—except it's not a movie. It's real. And people are dying. spring

All of this while spring is bringing everything else back to life.

Do you feel it in your gut? Do you walk around feeling that cloud of frustration, sadness, and deep grief—even if you're miles away? Even when the T.V. isn't on? Did you wake up on Monday feeling off—even though the bomb hadn't detonated?

There's something to this. This collective feeling. Bearing this burden together—feeling it in your soul. To me it's nothing but evidence. Evidence that there is something more than what we see, feel, experience, or observe. There is something in the air or in the soul or in a dimension beyond us that moves something within us.

We feel it inside. And why would I feel it all the way here, in Tennessee, away from disaster and death, surrounded by new life and a new kitchen on the way?

It's because we're connected. And we're all in this fight together.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12.

But there's promise of newness.

There's a promise that what is dead will come back to life.

There's a promise that evil will be ultimately and finally defeated. That though evil may strike our heel, the Prince of Peace will crush its head.

Thank God.