How Long is a Lifetime?

Two years ago today…

Joyfulness lingered from the gathering of family the day before as we celebrated Thanksgiving at our house for the first time. It was a special day that included a celebration of our nephew’s twenty-first birthday two days prior. We were in the throes of decorating our house for Christmas, giddy with anticipation of the days ahead.

Evening came, and the glow of Christmas lights met the chorus of Hallelujah praises. Christmastime permeated our senses. All was merry and bright.

The ring of the telephone was met with a cheery “hello.” The voice on the other end cut through the festivities with an earnestness that brought us immediately out of our revelry. The news would soon bring unimagined grief.


While we were hanging shiny bulbs on the tree and placing baby Jesus in the manger, my husband’s brother and his wife were at the airport getting ready to board a plane for home, and our nephew was driving back to his college dorm on the other side of the state. They had shared a wonderful time visiting one another and were already looking forward to their next visit, which could not have come too soon. He was their pride and joy. They were his loving parents.


The voice on the phone spoke vaguely to us. Our nephew had been in an auto accident and the hospital was trying to reach his parents. We frantically tried to reach them before their flight took off. They barely made it off the plane. Ahead lay a three-hour drive that would bring them to the realization of their worst nightmare.

It wasn’t until the next day, when family had gathered, that doctors shared the grave news.
Through tears that blurred our vision and sobs that shook our bodies, we said good-bye to our beloved Murray, knowing that he had been home with the Lord since the moment the accident occurred.


Witnesses say that he’d been driving normally, when suddenly he slumped over. Our family’s best guess is that he suffered from a burst aneurism, though we won’t know what happened in this life. All we know is that God had called him home.


More than four hundred gathered to pay their respects and I think more than two hundred were at the funeral service. In his short life, Murray had touched more lives that any of us imagined. One of the most vivid memories I have of the service was the pastor’s comment that Murray reached more people during his short life than most of us do in a lifetime. I couldn’t help but think that twenty-one years was his lifetime and twenty-one years was all it took. Twenty-one years and two days was the exact amount of time that God ordained for him. His purpose was fulfilled. God has received the glory.


The holidays still come with a measure of sorrow. Not because Murray is lost, for we know that he was found in Christ. But because he is missed.

Our nephew, Murray.

His parent’s only child.

{If you have a moment, I know they would covet your prayers.}

About Shelli Bourque

An ordinary girl living by the grace of life in Christ. Adoring wife and mom. Lover of quiet places and uncluttered spaces. Beauty seeker and image maker.