According to People online, “Debbie Reynolds’ ‘Greatest Fear’ Was Outliving Daughter Carrie Fisher” (warning: auto-playing videos in link destination). Death might be the enemy, but outliving your children is especially grievous.
This is a different kind of post. It’s a bit more personal.
Debbie Reynolds died the day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, died. Some say she died of a broken heart. Her family says she wanted to be “with Carrie”. Indeed, they will be together physically as they will be buried side-by-side according to all reports.
Of course, some interpret “with Carrie” as in being with her in some sort of afterlife. Certainly, we would have a different view of this, but we should try to not be overly judgmental about such things, for even the Bible says:
19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.
20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?
Herbert W Armstrong (HWA) used to describe the human spirit as something that set humans apart from the animals. Modern technology has opened our minds to possibilities that the ancients could only vaguely describe. Even though it is not a perfect analogy, our thoughts, our memories and more is saved off just like a computer program saves off data onto a disk drive. At the resurrection, everyone will receive new bodies, and this spirit will be resurrected, or “retrieved” in computer lingo, and we will be brought back to life.
In the first resurrection, those new bodies will be spirit, and in the second resurrection, those new bodies will be flesh and blood. The knowledge that all will be given the opportunity for eternal life, each in their own time, is the most comforting truth we have, for it reveals a Creator who has compassion and love for all of us quite unlike the typical depictions of Him.
Still, death is hard. Outliving your children is harder still. It is the symptom of an evil world still under the control and sway of an evil being.
It is personal. Not that I knew either Carrie Fisher or her mother, Debbie Reynolds. However, I witnessed my own grandmother, sitting in tears, as she watched my mother’s remains went into the ground.
What is mankind’s greatest enemy? A Google search might bring up George W Bush (really? how shallow is that?), close-mindedness (certainly one aspect of mankind’s core problem), greed (worthy of discussion) and mankind itself (a realistic assessment). However, I would argue that, at least in some ways, death is the greatest enemy. All of the other issues, problems and bone-headed behavior eventually leads to death.
Worse, death even affects “good” people. No matter how virtuous, death touches every human being. In fact, the only perfect human being, Jesus Christ, was affected by death. Is that justice?
In fact, that really is what is so bad about it. The wicked as well as the innocent die. Sometimes, babies die before they have a chance, while evil dictators starve their people to death. In fact, Solomon lamented that often the innocent die while the wicked live a long life:
15 All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness.
~ Ecc 7:15
What about sin? Sin is a good candidate for being the greatest enemy. However, I would argue that sin is the cause of death and suffering. It still leads to the same place.
Science fiction is often filled with stories about “mad” people who do whatever is necessary to prolong life. In the classical Doctor Who series (I have seen few of the new ones), his arch enemies, the Daleks, took second place for The Master, or at least during the Tom Baker era. Gradually over a few episodes, it was revealed that The Master was a Time Lord who refused to die — ever. He tried and failed at various technological attempts to extend his life. He somehow overtook another being’s body in order to extend beyond the normal 12 regenerations allotted a Time Lord.
However, this quest is hardly confined to science fiction. People with money have their bodies placed in cryogenic chambers so they can be revived once technology has the means of curing whatever killed them. Let’s face it: Even vaccinations are a means of extending life beyond “normal” means, so the efforts to delay death come in means small and great.
I believe that is why Paul stressed that death is the last enemy (1Co 15:26). It is the last because it is the greatest. It is one thing we have no control over.
However, even if you disagree, surely you can see that if death is indeed an evil thing, then outliving your children is a great evil thing. It really makes one look forward to the time when death will be defeated.