In July 1963, C. S. Lewis fell into a coma, and everyone thought that was the end for him. Yet he surprised the medical staff by sitting up and asking for tea. He did die four months later, but shortly after coming out of the coma, he wrote these poignant words to a longtime friend and correspondent:
Tho’ I am by no mean unhappy I can’t help feeling it was rather a pity I did revive in July. I mean, having been glided so painlessly up to the Gate it seems hard to have it shut in one’s face and know that the whole process must some day be gone thro’ again, and perhaps far less pleasantly! Poor Lazarus! But God knows best.
I think I can say I don’t fear death itself. My faith informs me of what awaits, and it will be glorious. But I share with most fellow mortals the anxiety, to some extent, of the steps leading to the glory. How much pain will there be? Will I retain my senses? So I can empathize with Lewis’s comments. I always want to have foremost in my thoughts that, as Paul said, to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord. That will be the ultimate reality that makes all pain fade away. There will be no more pain, no more tears. We will be in the presence of the One who is the essence of love.