This article originally appeared in the February 27, 1976, issue of Christianity Today. It was posted June 15, 2015, to commemorate the death of Elisabeth Elliot.

It’s gone.” I could see the yellow-spoked wheel of the spare tire, perched on the back of a 1934 Plymouth, disappear over the hilltop. The car in which I might have got a ride home from elementary school on this rainy day had gone and I was left. “It’s gone.” The trainman stood at the only lighted gate in Penn Station. The train had gone, leaving me behind to figure out how on earth I was to make a speaking engagement on Long Island in an hour and a half.

We’ve all experienced the desolation of being left in one way or another. And sooner or later many of us experience the greatest desolation of all: he’s gone. The one who made life what it was for us, who was, in fact, our life.

And we were not ready. Not really prepared at all. We felt, when the fact stared us in the face, “No. Not yet.” For however bravely we may have looked at the possibilities (if we had any warning at all, however calmly we may have talked about them with the one who was about to die (and I had a chance to talk about the high risks with my first husband, and about the human hopelessness of his situation with my second), we are caught short. If we had another week, perhaps, to brace ourselves. A few more days to say what we wanted to say, to do or undo some things, wouldn’t it have been better, easier?

But silent, swift, and implacable the Scythe has swept by, and he is gone, and we are left. We stand bewildered on the sidewalk, on the station platform. Yet, most strangely, that stunning snatching away has changed nothing very much. There ...

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