Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Of Death and Dying…

My dear friend Laurie is traversing down similar paths and life rhythms with me in this moment. Terraced with rocks and cliffs, valleys, mountain tops, weeds as well as flowers, tears of joy and sorrow all in one space.
Attempting to allow life to infuse it's circle into our understanding and soak in every ornamental detail. Walking with loved ones as they breathe their last of this earthly air and inhale deeply their first taste of His kingdom is a daunting task that can only be understood in the journey.
Today is her expression of this journey...

Darrol and Glenda

It’s been a difficult week.  You see, my husband’s father was diagnosed with the “C” word last week… and the “C” is aggressive – it has started invading many of his vital organs and, according to the doctor, this sweet man has very little time left here on this earth. 

This news not only thrust my heart into grieving  - both for my loss and, even more so, my

husband’s – but it touched a nerve causing feelings to resurface relating to my own experience of

losing a parent.  Ten years ago this month – yes, a month where holidays are in full swing, a month

sanctioned for ‘giving thanks’ - my mom was also diagnosed with cancer..stage 3 lung cancer.  I could

not imagine getting worse news – it tore all of our hearts in two – and left my dad’s in pieces. 

I went on to watch her go through treatments and occasionally see glimmers of hope, only to have those hopes dashed as time marched on with no apparent bodily healing in store for her.  I watched her lose her appetite and slowly fade away.  As the cancer took more and more, she became less and less.  As she lay in the hospital in a coma, I felt compelled to remain with her and witness her exiting this life and entering the next.  And then…the last breath…and I felt like all the breath in my body went with her – her gasp was my gasp… – not unlike having the wind knocked out of you.  For those of us who have been privileged to know and love our mothers and be loved back, their death can feel almost like a second cutting of the umbilical cord…only this time you are very, very cognizant of the separation.  It’s so indescribable, and, as odd as this sounds, I think the writers of Grey’s Anatomy really captured it best in the clip below…

“I don’t know how to exist in a world where my dad


These words described perfectly how I felt losing my mom.

The other night I tried to insist to my husband that he should ‘let me in’ to his grief - that I knew what he was going through – but does anyone really know what someone else is going through at the core of their being when death makes its grand entrance into their life?  Even though I had gone through similar circumstances, I quickly realized I don’t know.  As I’ve watched him processing his pain and imminent loss so differently than I processed mine, it suddenly seems presumptuous and preposterous to even make such a declaration.

There’s a  clandestine nature to death by cancer – the way it creeps in silently, snatching everything within its greedy reach, then leaves loudly, taking hostage the one you loved so deeply.  Death is like Satan’s lover.  It brings with it a wave of darkness affecting everyone in its path by its thievery, and, in some cases, dredging up raw emotions as if it were digging graves in our very souls.       


Jesus conquered this villain and death’s defeat is our


And this victory ushers in a host of opportunities…opportunities to mend relationships; opportunities to heal spiritually even when physical healing doesn’t come; opportunities to move into the “L” word – LOVE.  A space of time is created to allow us to love deliberately and with abandon.  There is nothing left to lose.  And then, within the ugliness of death, emerges love-drenched life. 


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