Written By Amanda Lim, Singapore
“You must have wished this was just a cruel April Fool’s joke,” my father’s friend finally said to me, still in disbelief at the sight of the white coffin lying serenely in front of him, with a photograph of my father in front of it.
He was the first to pay his respects at the wake, though it was purely by coincidence: he had just happened to pass by my block of flats while on his way home. Struggling to string his sentences together, he expressed shock and bewilderment at my father’s sudden passing, sharing how he had just seen my father running in the park just a week or two ago.
He was not the only one to have been taken unawares; none of us had seen it coming.
It was Good Friday, a few years ago. My church mates and I had just finished distributing evangelistic tracts and were headed for lunch when my handphone rang. It was my sister. “Amanda, can you take a cab down to the hospital? We think Daddy’s got a mild stroke, he’s very weak and his speech is slurred.”
But we soon discovered that it was no mild stroke. My dad had suffered a massive brain haemorrhage.
What followed was a whirlwind of events: my father slipping into a coma and being rushed for an operation, sombre and tear-stained faces arriving at the hospital one after another, and doctors on duty taking turns to repeat the same thing to my family as sensitively as they could: He isn’t going to make it.
A day later, nothing had changed. Aware of the significance of the next day, Easter, one of my uncles tried to raise some hope, saying, “Maybe he’d be like Jesus and wake up tomorrow.” Though it seemed humanly impossible that that might happen, I secretly hoped he was right and prayed with all my might that God would perform a miracle.
But my uncle was wrong. Though my father made it through Easter Sunday, he didn’t wake up.
On Monday, my family was gently reminded for the umpteeth time that we had the option to take him off the ventilator (only if we wanted to) and of the need to get an undertaker to prepare for a funeral service. Our prayers had changed. God, please take him home on Your own.
God answered our prayers that night. That evening, my dad passed away peacefully. The date was 1 April.
Today marks my father’s death anniversary. The irony has not been lost on me that it falls on Easter Sunday this year. And to be honest, I cannot be more glad.Because the significance of Jesus’ resurrection is the biggest comfort I can ever ask for on a day like this.
As I look back on the timing of my dad’s passing, it seems as though God was giving my family a taste of the grief and sorrow He felt when Jesus died on the cross on Good Friday—and, at the same time, the certainty and comfort that just as Jesus rose from the dead on Easter, so would my father.
My uncle was not wrong at all. Precisely because of Jesus’ resurrection, my dad would “wake up” and live again. (John 11:25-26)
I can’t put it better than evangelist Billy Graham, who passed away recently and who once said, “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”
Today, my father is more alive than ever because of Easter. And I live each day with hope and joy, knowing that I’d see him again.