Atonement by Kate Lee
My Dad didn't speak Spanish, but that never stopped him.
He was convinced that the Portuguese he learned decades earlier on a mission to Brazil, and subsequently forgot, qualified him to strike up a conversation with every Hispanic we encountered at the grocery store, library, restaurants, etc. I have many memories of their patient smiles as they tried to understand his commentary on the weather or last night's Sun's game in Portuspanglish.
When he was given an ongoing assignment to address Spanish-speaking congregations of our church, he refused the interpreter that was offered him. Rather, he preferred to write out his messages in English on a large yellow legal pad and pass them off to my brother Jeff, who was fluent in Spanish and would interpret for him. He always began those talks by joking that if people didn't love what he had to say, it was because Jeff had translated it wrong.
One spring, Jeff was handed the usual yellow lined paper to interpret and said that as he did so one particular phrase seemed to jump off the page. "Donde esta oh muerte tu aguijon?" Translated, this means, "Oh death, where is thy sting?" For a long time after, he said, that phrase kept coming back to him. "Donde esta oh muerte tu aguijon?"
Seven months later, Dad was suddenly gone. When I look back on that blurry time, of receiving the news, the funeral, and sorting through our unexpected loss, one memory that stands out to me is how peaceful Jeff was. He was Dad's firstborn, only son, and favorite teammate. I knew the loss for him was devastating and yet he was so composed, and calm. Sad, but strong.
I found out later, after he told me of this experience, that one of the reasons for his inexplicable peace was the echoing of this question asked by Paul to the Corinthians, "Oh death, where is thy sting?"
Death is a lot of things. It can be confusing. Sad. Lonely. Heartbreaking. But the sting of it was taken away on Easter. On Easter, Christ emerged from the tomb, overcame death, and promised that we will too.
Much like my dad's attempts to converse in Spanish, I find myself inadequate to express exactly what this means to me, but willing to try.