Growing up, whenever my family heard about someone dying, my Mom and Dad would immediately start to think about who else has died recently. Their superstition was that deaths always come in threes, and they would get busy counting to make sure there were no more coming. Many times they couldn't come up with two more names and they would look at each other, usually not say anything, and they would begin the wait.
I don't know about this "three" thing, but I do know from recent personal experience that illnesses seem to run in batches. We seem to have a rash of illnesses in groups associated with my life right now, and all of those people who are ill have families who are waiting, who are watching. Much like Mary Magdalene and the other Mary do in today's reading after Joseph of Arimathea places Jesus' dead body in his tomb. Their waiting proved to be a fruitful exercise, although they did not know or understand what resurrection would be like. They were simply there doing their duty, doing what was right.
Some of these families who are waiting and watching their loved ones who are ill will be rewarded with recovery and a re-engagement with life. Some will be rewarded by being able to be with and witness their loved one dying. And that is a different kind of reward, for both the family and the one who has passed on: for passed on they have. Passed on to a new life, a union with God to which we are all headed. Although sad for those still here, because they won't see and be with their loved one any longer, it is not a cold comfort to know those who have moved on are now in a better place. Their watch is now over.
We can be assured that there will be others.
Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.