Leaving the old year behind and our loved ones

I start off the end of this year thinking of my dad who died 3 years ago, he didn’t make it to 2014. My grandma died in 1991, she didn’t make it to 1992, so many didn’t make it to 2017. Those who have passed on don’t leave the year, like a flower pressed in between the pages of a book they remain pressed in between the pages of the year. I don’t know what year I will remain in, most people I would write don’t know.

But we must leave our loved ones behind, we pray, not for them, but for ourselves. We are the ones who need comforting. Of the celebrities that passed this year, my favorites were Gene Wilder and Prince, the most tragic to me was Anton Yelchin who died at 27. I don’t really shed tears for actors, their work is immortalized for a time on screen, and that is not to be taken away from us, most of us didn’t share personal moments with them, didn’t have relationships with them, so their passing while sad, I don’t believe really registers as a death.

I never even met any of them, so their death didn’t hit me hard. I see the weeping hordes of fans, and I don’t understand. Actor Anton Yelchin will always be the new young Chekov who was a genius on screen. Gene Wilder will always be Willy Wonka singing “Pure Imagination”. These moments are not stolen from us. If anything their performances become a deeply embedded part of the culture.

But when we lose a part of our own family, we taste the bitterness of death, the closer the loved one, the more heart wrenching. I’m certain everyone has lost a loved one at some point in their lives, and we have learned how to grieve. In our grief we realize how important life is, how precious and what a gift it really is to be alive. We learn to love our loved ones who’ve passed on in a different way, not by sight, by our memories of them, we remember the love imparted to them.

With each year we learn to live with grief, it becomes a part of who we are. I don’t believe we really grieve or can grieve for those we did not know. When Princess Diana passed away in 1997 I mourned. But the mourning was for a glamorous beautiful caring woman who died young and who was a mother. By the end of the week my tears had dried.

While we mark the passing of celebrities every year their lives are not really ours to grieve, it is a tradition knowing, they are no longer in the world, no longer able to impart their gift to us.

I must be honest I didn’t shed any tears this year for any of the celebrities who passed away. I recognized them, remembered them, and realized I did not really know any of them. Grief is very personal. While many people mourned for Pope John II, paying their respects to him, while he lay in repose. Many of the mourners wept. I was not compelled to grieve with them.

In the year 1980, two celebrities that meant a lot to me passed away John Lennon and actor Peter Sellers. John’s passing was sudden, they announced on t.v. that he was shot to death as I was watching an episode of Little House on the Prairie. It was a shock, he was 40 years old, I was 15, and the Beatles was my favorite group in the world. There were tears for John. Peter Sellers died earlier in the year he suffered a massive heart attack, and I heard he was in grave condition. I didn’t know what grave condition meant I just knew that he was still alive and there was hope for him. He died three days later on July 24th. He was 54.

I remember the New Year’s Eve of 1985 singer Ricky Nelson died in a plane crash, I remembered thinking he couldn’t make it to 1986, it was his time, and the year pulled him back into itself. He didn’t escape 1985.

But as for me, the years 2013 and 1991 hold special significance, part of my heart remained. This year there were no tears, there was death, as there always is, but death was far this time.

In a sense I take my daddy and grandma with me through every year, knowing they would have enjoyed certain things, movies, events. I still impart my thoughts to them, while driving, while in my home. It is not prayer, it is my longing to have a conversation with them. In prayer I do share with the Lord how much I still miss them. He has given me the strength to go on, and has lessened the pain of their passing.

I pray for the family and loved ones of those celebrities who’ve died. I pray that this grief will cause them to run to Jesus the one who will take away their pain. I don’t know which celebrities were saved by God’s grace, only God knows.

But passing from this life to the next should not be feared. The mercy of God has taken the sting out of death. The price Christ paid has taken away the stigma. Through His Shed Blood we will live forever, and death has been nailed to the cross.

In reality we don’t stay impressed in between the pages of an old year. It is an illusion that living in this world has created. Those who died in Jesus have transcended time and we should enter the New Year filled with God’s truth that death has no dominion over Him or those who live and die in Christ.

Happy New Year! May God bless each one of you as you enter into the gift of 2017.

Leaving the old year behind and our loved ones

Matty B. Duran

Joined July 2009

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Artist's Description

Thoughts about the year that has passed, 2016. Thoughts about my father and my grandmother, and the state of death, and what it means to be dead in the eyes of the living.

Artwork Comments

  • Kathryn Jones
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