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4 minute read

To Rest in Peace One Must Die in Peace

To Rest in Peace One Must Die in Peace by Joseph Clay

Chaplain Ronnie Jenkins was stepping to the podium as he was watching the hand full of people that were gathered in the smallest chapel of the funeral home. Some were taking a seat while others were making their way towards the simple wooden coffin. Chaplain Jenkins was placing his bottle of water on the small shelf under the podium as the last of the mourners were somberly viewing the body of Nathan Dewberry.

Chaplain Jenkins placed the leather binder on the podium and opened it. He began reading the particulars of Mister Dewberry. Nathan Dewberry was a homeless man who passed in his sleep under the Jefferson Street Bridge. There was no sign of foul play and his body was clear of drugs and alcohol. The cause of death was listed as heart failure.

With the mourners now seated Chaplain Jenkins removed the bottle of water, with the top off he took several gulps before replacing it. He was adjusting his glasses as he centered the papers on the podium.

“Mister Dewberry left specific instruction is his last will and testament of what was to be said at this time. He wrote his own eulogy, and that is all that is to be read, nothing added or removed” Chaplain Jenkins said as he was flipping to the next page while clearing his throat. He then began reading in a clear deep but comforting voice.

“As I approach death I felt the need to share my dismal existence and life style. I do this in hopes you will understand for ones soul to rest in peace we must die in peace. I learned this from watching the creatures, both domestic and wild. When the end approaches most wander off to die alone in silence and with a soul that is at peace. My demise may answer some of your questions of why it had to be this way. However my friend it may trigger questions that only partaking of death will answer. There comes a time when we all have to make the decision about life and death. This is easier said than done. Our lives are hectic to say the least and the hardships of that life weigh on us. The only sure thing is death. Therefore the decision we must make is about how we choose to spend the days from birth to the only constant in life death.”

Chaplain Jenkins looked up from the handwritten words that were on several sheets of wrinkled and faded notebook paper. The chaplain lowered his eyes back to the words that laid before him.

“I beg of you, don’t chase the dollar. Time will get away from you, before you know it you are only existing and not living. You will have missed life, not your life but the life of Gods greatest blessing, the kids. The children only want one thing and that thing is more valuable than all the money you have. Your time. I learned this lesson the hard way. I have six wonderful kids, who are now adults. If I were not dead, I would wager that only half of them are here. I can’t blame them and not disappointed in the ones who didn’t make it. After all why should they give me their time when I didn’t give them mine?”

Chaplain Jenkins was removing his glasses with one hand as the other was removing a handkerchief from his pocket. While he was wiping the tears from his eyes, he was looking at three well-dressed young adults, two females and one male. They were sitting together, holding hands with tears streaming down their faces. To clear the lump in his throat, Chaplain Jenkins took a few more swigs of water before continuing.

“Do we choose to die alone or surrounded by those that say they love us, do they really? They tell us they do. Friends you must understand love is not a noun it is a verb, an action verb. Beware of those around you that spew the word freely, almost like their favorite cuss word. They spit the words with no feeling or action. These people my friends speak with a forked tongue and the truth is not in them. The worst torment is when spouses begin to suck the very soul from the other until what once was love is now hate. Both souls are now empty and void of any light or hope for peace. Be leery of those who tell you that God is helping them get through a crisis and he will do the same for you. Yet behind closed doors these same people reach for the bottle, liquor or pill. They are putting their faith in that bottle and feeding the demons. Those demons have their soul tightly in their grasp and will never let go. The demons are laughing knowing if the captive had the faith that they say they do, the demons would not have been able to enter, capture and harvest the soul to begin with. Like love, faith is a verb not a noun. Speaking it accomplishes nothing, showing it, brings on action.” Chaplain Jenkins checked on the three young adults as he was reaching for his bottle of water. After taking a couple of sips to wet his throat he gently placed it down. Once he adjusted his glasses he found where he had stopped reading.

“Blame it on Karma or whatever but I was being paid back for my actions. Those actions I take full responsibility. I knew there was no way I was going to rest in peace as I wasn’t going to die in peace. Let’s face it we can’t change a damn thing about the world or others, we can change ourselves and/or circumstances. I knew I had to escape from the people that were keeping me in a living hell. I chose to be homeless. That way when I fade from this world into whatever lays on the other side, if anything, I’ll be able to rest in peace as I died in peace.”