Wednesday, February 25, 2009

On the subject of death...

Death is a journey we all undoubtedly begin the moment we scream at birth. It is unavoidable. It is also one of the fairest experiences in life since it touches everyone: rich and poor, young and old, etc.

If you are like me, you don't even think about death on a regular basis. Maybe you even start to believe you are immortal. I know that I have made plans for what I will be doing in my 70s and 80s.

One of my best friends from High School lost his dad this morning to a short but fierce battle with liver cancer. It is the stuff you never hear about anymore. In our efforts to defeat death, we have transformed cancer from a silent sudden killer to a slow death. We have allowed ourselves to believe we can call the shots. This same friend and I happen to have been close to a young man who passed away right after our third year of college after a long battle with a similarly aggressive cancer which came back for the kill quite literally after we all thought we'd found the gold at the end of the rainbow.

I asked a friend this past Sunday what her biggest fear was. She said death. I was surprised being that she is a Christian and understands that upon death we are reunited with the Father. I inquired further. She explained that she is not afraid for her own death but for the death of dear and loved ones and the emptiness that it leaves. That it is not the same to see someone live a healthy 98 years and achieve all their dreams and make a difference as it is to witness someone pass in what seems like "before their time". We discussed the issue of time and forethought. I explained that cancer is quite unsettling to me. Just about every other illness one can die of can be somewhat explained and justified, but cancer just hits anyone without rhyme or reason and regardless of efforts to live a healthy life. Minutes before we embarked on the walk that sparked this conversation, a friend called her. The healthy husband that she was about to divorce had just had a terrible accident and walked the thin line between life and death were the next 48 hours would be crucial.

On Monday, I found out one of my old co-worker's mother had had a stroke over the weekend. My co-worker was on her way home from a trip to India. On the way to her layover in Paris, she heard the news. In a world where not too long ago going to India would be deemed much more dangerous than for a healthy mid-sixties woman to stand up from her bed in the morning, my friend was well and her mom had a stroke. She is afraid to die and losing mobility and independence on account of an unexplainable stroke is a threat to her life. My friend debates on the next point of action as she lives over 4,000 miles away in the land of opportunity.

So, what gives? It gives that living life in any way but the most meaningful way is a waste of time. It gives that doing anything but your best for a season, some season, any season is risky because it might be your last season. It gives that life is short and you should tell people you love them and you care. It gives that you should make every day count. It gives that similar to everything else in life, it makes no sense to just spill about anything which is finite such as your time on Earth and the time of those you love. It gives that you should allow God to take full control of your life, trust him to provide you with direction and not wait until you are older, wiser, done, sick or worse.

My friend's dad was not even 60, not even sickly, not even, not even, not even. Please pray for my friend and his family in this time of loss. Please go and make life worth your while.

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