16624937_sIn my last email to him, I told him that we were thinking of visiting Toronto, and him, at the end of the year, maybe in December. In his last email to me he warned me about Toronto in December. He said:

Yes, it would be fun for your family to come to Toronto for a holiday, but in December? It will be cold then and perhaps snowing. This year we have a bad winter with lots of snow and more forecasted for tomorrow and next week.

Like the best of them, he was looking out for others, though in pain and fighting for his life. Like Jesus on the Cross looking out for His mother (John 19:26-27).

My cousin Roson, died yesterday, 3.30 a.m., March 31, 2008, age 68. He had been fighting pancreatic cancer.

I found out on Facebook yesterday afternoon. His daughter Delia had been keeping everyone updated. No, there was no outburst of tears. A little tearing, but mostly a cold silence that gripped the heart. Everything seemed the same but nothing will be the same again. I will not see Roson “ko-ko” (brother) this side of eternity again.

He was an only child. I was an only son. He loved me as a brother. In all my trips to Toronto he would get me from the airport. (Except the last time when he was already weak.) He enjoyed his real estate business and he had been blessed. He loved taking me for long drives around Toronto and the surrounding areas. As we drove we would talk about life. Toronto will never be the same again.

Forgive me a little sanctified romantic speculation. I see Roson now checking out the lay of the land in the new heavens and the new earth. He will be waiting for me when it is my turn to check in. And he will take me for a ride in some heavenly Cadillac, and we will talk about life again. (Yes, his spirit is with Christ now and he awaits the final resurrection for his new body [2 Corinthians 5:1-5] but since he is now outside of earth time perhaps experientially he gets fast forwarded to his new existence? Like I said, romantic speculation.)

So many memories.

Roson is taller than I. In one of my trips he gave me one of his jackets. It was a half size too small for him but just perfect for me. I have it still. It will always be treasured. Roson introduced me to Canadian ice wine. And to many other things. He told me that when he heard that my second marriage had broken down, he drove to a nearby lake and cried and cried. Thank you, brother, for a love I did not deserve.

Crisis does not make a man. It reveals his true nature. When he knew it was pancreatic cancer, he was aware of the odds. But he had known his Lord for a long time and his faith was sure. In the email where he first told me that he had pancreatic cancer, he wrote:

I shared with them (people he was trying to reach for Christ) that we, as born again Christians, are in a ‘Win Win’ situation as Paul puts it, ‘For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.’ How could we lose? No way.

When he knew that his time on earth may be limited, though we always believed the Lord could intervene, Roson did what he had always been doing — blessing his family and friends, blessing his clients, evangelising the lost, and fighting for the renewal of his church. And here is a test for all of us. If you knew that you were going to die soon, would you still be doing the things you normally do. If the answer is no, are those things worth doing at all?

So many questions.

Why didn’t God heal him miraculously? He seemed to be doing so well at first. And always the forbidden question, just out of sight — does God even exist? Nothing new here. Bernice (beloved wife) and I lost our first spouses to cancer. We have faced these questions before and have stared them down. God in His mercy took Roson home in the afterglow of Easter. Jesus died and rose again. And so will all who are in Him.

I remember the Thanksgiving lunch that Bernice and I were privileged to share with Roson and his family. That was such a special time, a foretaste of heaven. The memory of that meal will help sustain me as I await our reunion feast in the new heavens and the new earth. See you at the Messianic Banquet (Luke 22:30)!

So thank you Roson, for so many things, for teaching me how to live. And how to love. And how to die. I will miss you.

(If you will be at the funeral this Saturday, please put a flower on his casket for me.)