Remember, O LORD, what has happened to us …. we have become orphans …” (Lamentations 5:1–3)

Mom died today.

I’m certainly grateful that her final struggle is done. Anyone who has cared for a parent with Alzheimer’s knows that you lose a little more of that special person with every visit. It is a great comfort knowing that one of her very last rational decisions brought her to faith. Faye was well cared for in both assisted living and at the nursing center.

Still, one is never ready for the day when you become an orphan. After Dad’s death fifteen years ago, I expected this day to arrive. But a parent is an irreplaceable thing. When the relationship orbits closer, and when it arcs farther away, a parent always provides … not a second home, but a second haven. A face that recognizes you as none other can. A door that always opens. A history that is part of what you are.

When both parents are gone, there is an emptiness beyond the grief of losing someone you love. However much they have done for you and however old you are, when they are gone, you become an orphan. Nothing – not even your web of friends and family – can change the fact that you have become profoundly alone in a new way.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18–19)

Jesus understood this aloneness as the legacy of human death. Praises to God for every parent and child reunited in the new heavens and new earth. But Jesus came to eliminate my orphan-ness even more fundamentally. He restored familial roots with my Creator that were torn and shredded by sin. The cross reconnected me with a parent’s love that will never pass away – because this Parent will never pass away. I feel alone in my little world decorated with past memories. But I will never be alone in the universe I have yet to shape in eternal fellowship with my Lord.

Being an orphan is hard. But bless the Living God – he loves orphans.