Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Life and Death

A few weeks ago I read a difficult Facebook post. Okay, it wasn't just difficult, it was probably the hardest post I have ever read. It wasn't a political bash, a gut-wrenching story on Godvine or even a friend posting a loss of someone near and dear to them. It was actually much worse than any of those because this post was a good-bye.

This good-bye came from someone I met years ago when our children were nearly babies. We both participated in similar activities with our kids and only lived a block away from each other. Our paths crossed quite often but as the kids grew we moved in separate directions. Thanks to Facebook, we reconnected, but like many friendships on Facebook, it was the only way we kept up with each other. When I reconnected with her, I had learned she was battling cancer. There were the usual ups and downs with treatments and miraculous recoveries, but in recent months, her health seemed to take a bad turn. Less than a month ago, she was admitted to the hospital. She kept us informed on her situation, posting pictures along with her optimism. I suppose I figured this was just another little bump in the road but instead, it was the end of her road and of her journey.

After a few days in the hospital, she posted on FB that she had said good-bye to her doctor and Hospice would be coming to her home that weekend. She continued to write her goodbyes that day, knowing her time was borrowed. Her words and what they represented nearly paralyzed me with deep, unrelenting sadness. My thoughts and fears surrounded me at the very idea of having to say good-bye. How does one say good-bye? I couldn't even begin to wrap my brain around the idea.

I am a faithful person. I believe in God, in Heaven, in forgiveness and in life after death. I believe we are reunited with our loved ones when we are done here on Earth. These beliefs have always brought me comfort when someone close to me has died. I can't imagine life without this faith. Yet, even with my faith, the thought of preparing for the journey when you know the end is near, is unfathomable. I'm sure our bodies, in their sick state, prepare the brain in some way and help us to eventually let go, but the idea of saying those last words to the people who have meant so much to you has to be the most difficult task to complete. It is an acknowledgment of the end of a future on Earth and an understanding that the memories you have made with others will be the only part of you that will remain. One can only hope that those memories are of a life well lived in spite of its length.

Every time I open Facebook, I look for the announcement and am flooded with relief when it's not there. There will soon come a day when she will no longer be here and the grief of loss will wash over me like large, crashing wave. But after the wave breaks, I will be looking for the calm and hopefully be comforted by the fact that the most difficult part of her journey is now over. There are no guarantees in life, but the fact that we are alive is a blessing. It's true what is said, we should live every day like it's our last, not in reckless abandonment, but in pure awe of the gift given to us. And further, we should allow each day to remind us that the small bumps in our road are meant to show us that we still have a road to travel, a journey to continue. Not always an easy motto to live by, but certainly one to consider when we are shown how precious and short life truly is.

Godspeed, my friend.