Life and Death

This weekend, my baby brother and his beautiful wife had their first child, a little boy named Elam.

amy zach

He is perfect.

At six-foot-five my brother Zach is the tallest of the Swenson boys. Imagine our delight when he found a soul-mate equal in stature — Amy is six-foot-two. Tall people are awesome. But that cute little couple, they were so happy when the baby was born at a “normal” size — less than eight pounds!

The next day, just down the street from us, one of my childhood friends died after a long battle with cancer. Mary was just 43 and leaves behind her devoted husband, two teenage sons and a younger, adoring daughter. It is heartbreaking and really only bearable because of God’s grace and the joy that Mary is no longer suffering. Oh how she suffered. But with a brave face. You knew she was sick, but not because she advertised.

Mary is from a large family and almost all of her six siblings live within a one-mile radius of her home, right in our neighborhood. I drove down her street on Saturday, the day before she died, and family cars lined the curbs. Everyone had gathered to surround her and support her family. Mary was so loved. She is loved.

mary bea
thanks to Rosie, Mary’s niece and Isa’s favorite babysitter, for sharing this beautiful image

Life and death. Joy and sadness. What a mystery. Our hearts can be so full and so heavy at the same time. The beauty of new life, the pain of loss. All mixed in together.


  1. Prayers for Mary’s family and for all of her friends. Thankful she is pain free and rejoicing in heaven but sad for all those she left behind.