Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Death Startles Us

Death is not a subject that is easy to broach. Most people strive to stave off the encroachment of aging and the demise that is sure to afflict all of us.

A dear loved one is in a precarious state and all the concerns surrounding death are forced to the foreground.

I would prefer not thinking about death. I tried for a year to woo my mother back from eighteen strokes (some large, some TIAs--or transient ischemic attacks--mini strokes) and finally accepted that she was ready to move on, even if I wasn't ready to let her go. She died that afternoon, four hours after I accepted that I had to allow her to be at peace and acknowledged to God that I didn't want her to suffer for my sake--i.e. my desire to keep her here.

The quality of life has much to do with holding on or letting go. I would not wish pain and incapacity on anyone for any length of time. While pain is good for a moment; it teaches us to withdraw our fingers from the fire, to be suffering endless days of pain is not to be wished upon anyone. Functionality is important. Most people desire to feel necessary and profitable in this life. To lack capability to do anything productive or to feel unnecessary is to deny a critical aspect of what makes life worth living...leads us to feel dead even if we are not yet in the grave.

So for my loved one, I pray and commit to God the best outcome even if it does not meet my hopes of a continued vital relationship. On the one hand is loss. On the other hand is potentially a less than optimum existence, and like John Milton who wrote On His Blindness about losing that part (eyesight) which is death to hide, but lodged with him useless, we hope for more. 'Though my soul more bent to serve therewith my Maker and present my true account' I come to the resolution just as he did:'they also serve who only stand and wait.'

I feel the impotence of impending death. On the otherhand, miracles happen every day, and the rejuevenated soul is a powerful one. Life and death in the balance can be unsettling, but hope prevails against the odds. Being a 'glass half full' person, I unerringly aim for the good news and hope beyond hope.