A few days ago, the daughter of one of our nicest choir members was born with her umbilical cord wrapped far too tightly around her neck. I’ve heard that her grieving father was able to reach a priest and get her baptized; her parents also were comforted by many, many of the staff at the hospital who very kindly stopped by while they were given the time to hold her. Somehow, this baby’s death was as blessed and comforting as it was sad and wrenching. We forget that there really can be such a thing as a happy and blessed death — and then it happens again, and we remember how humans were meant to live and die, before we first sinned.
(We say these things are extraordinary, but really, they happen all the time yet are always something unexpected. We don’t know why some people receive certain consolations in special ways; why others are comforted by God through more mundane channels; or why others suffer like Christ, mostly alone. Some day we will know, but not yet.)
Just yesterday, Robert L. Asprin (funny and controversial author, musician, songwriter, co-creator of the Thieves’ World shared world anthologies, creator of the Mythadventures, and founder of the Dorsai Irregulars, the Klingon Diplomatic Corps, and the SCA’s Great Dark Horde) passed away at his home in New Orleans. He was fine earlier that afternoon; he was dead by the time a friend arrived to give him a ride to the airport to be Guest of Honor at Marcon in Columbus. He died reading a Terry Pratchett book — and surely, that’s a little sign of God’s grace to him.
I only met him once or twice. Sure, I’ve heard lots about the bad stuff he did. But my friends and acquaintances in the Horde and Dorsai have enriched my life, and so have his songs and stories. He was good and bad; but he was never indifferent. So farewell, Yang the Nauseating, Commander Kras of the KDC, and all the rest.
In the midst of life, we are in death. This Memorial Day, we will remember and pray for our gallant dead. Please add to your prayers and thoughts a moment to remember an old pro and a tiny young girl — to pray for their friends and family as well — and to remember that you too must die.
Will you and I make as much of a difference as he did? Or as she?
UPDATE: A portrait of Bob Asprin by Kaja Foglio.