Spiritual Non-Fiction posted January 25, 2009


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Life and death and all that's in between...

With God, All Things Are Possible

by NadineM


Recognizing death as a part of life, would we approach our own this well?

I was sitting quietly meditating, reflecting on all that is going on in the world around me, within the intimacies of my own life. Sadness fills more than one corner of my heart. The burdens we bear can feel impossible sometimes, the hurdles too high to get over, the pains too deep. I cannot recall how or where, but the Bible verse came to me.  Matthew 19:26 tells us how with God, all things are possible.

My thoughts immediately go to my girlfriend ‘s mother, who is living her last days with cancer, knowing she isn’t expected to live much longer.  Thinking about the pains she’s experiencing,  both physical and emotional,  makes me weep.  I have known this lady since my girlfriend and I met when we were 13 years old. She’s like my second mom, and I call her “mom” because it just feels right to do so. I know she cares about me as I do her. 

We’ve all heard that death is hardest on those left behind. I believe this to be true, especially in this case. You see, Lynn is widowed and lost her husband to cancer many years ago. She had her time of grieving and knows the road ahead won’t be easy for the family she leaves behind. It’s not because of this that she faces her own future of uncertainties with a sense of calm and acceptance. But she is making this easier on her family and friends by facing it with this sense of resolve and peace.  How can she do this, I wonder.

 I shouldn’t really be surprised that her focus be so much on the positive. She’s a strong Christian lady with a solid faith in God. Her relationship with Him  has given her strength when others would have crumbled. She’s been an inspiration to her children, family and friends for years. We’ve been privileged to witness the integrity of this person, to tackle life head-on with dignity and pride. She’s inspired many in her travels on life’s journey. Her journey.

The recent diagnosis of terminal cancer has become her reality. Something she suspected could be in her future, yet never quite confirmed, until just weeks ago.  After taking a few days to contemplate taking some medical treatment and procedures for this cancer, she bravely decided to decline them. These wouldn’t cure her, and would make her physically ill in her last days, weeks or months. Instead of giving in to cancer’s grasp, I see her as taking control. She’s not resigned herself to dying just yet, but to living awhile longer.

 Her own parents live out of province and to see them one more time, she boarded a plane. Her ticket did not have a return date predetermined. I mean, how does one plan to go and tell her own parents “good-bye”, that they’d never see her again? They’d never hold her again? They’d never see her smile again? How does a parent deal with their child dying before them?  And then, when she made these travel plans, how would she know in advance how long she’d need to spend with her aged parents? When would her final farewells be over? How long is long enough to spend telling her parents that she’s dying and won’t be here much longer? How many words would she say to express her own sadness and also joy, for having had loving parents and a supportive family? How could she board that plane, knowing the intensity of emotions waiting for her when she landed?

When I spoke to Lorie , my girlfriend who is like a sister to me, just the other night, we talked about how her mother was taking control of her life, showing her strength and faith. When we spoke of her courage and determination, I could feel our collective pride in seeing such an example of God’s love in her mom.  Lorie’s mom is a well-loved and respected lady. She worked as a nurse for many years. Even after having back surgery and realizing the physical requirements of  her job would prevent her from nursing, she didn’t turn her back on her love of caring for others. She took a desk job doing unit clerk  duties which kept her near the patients she loved. When she retired from this job, she took training in the community to be a crisis worker, actively involved in emergency situations, where she served as a compassionate companion and support person in a victim’s hour of need. Day or night she was there offering her love and understanding.

 So as Lorie and I were talking, I asked her when she expected her mother to return home from seeing her parents and other family members.  I then said to her, “Lorie, it’s as if when she comes home, she’s returning to get on with the process of dying. How does one do that?”

By taking control of her life, even now filled with illness, sadness and loneliness, she is going to both live and die with the dignity she deserves. She’s earned our respect by living such a productive and admirable life. Her faith is unbreakable and evident in all she says and does. The way she’s handling her final hours with us, her own death, is incredibly touching. Moving me to tears at any given moment, my heart is filled with emotion. I feel blessed to have known her as I have, to have benefitted from her loving example and to be called friend. I know I will be there with her as she is surrounded by family and friends , of which I am proud to be a part.

Just after speaking with Lorie on the phone, I received an email, telling a story about a lady who left work one day, not knowing her fate, but never to return to work. She died before the Monday and return to work could come. When her co-workers read their emails the next working day, they were astonished to read a message sent from their now deceased co-worker. It read as a poem and was about dying before  tomorrow comes. As I read this poem, I could feel its significance and felt that this message could be one that Lorie’s mother would also send to all of us she’ll leave behind one day soon...

 

"If tomorrow starts without me,

And I'm not there to see,

If the sun should rise and find your eyes

all filled with tears for me;

I wish so much you wouldn't cry

the way you did today,

While thinking of the many things,

We didn't get to say.

I know how much you love me,

As much as I love you,

And each time that you think of me,

I know you'll miss me too;

But when tomorrow starts without me,

Please try to understand,

that an angel came and

called my name,

And took me by the hand,

And said my place was ready,

In heaven far above,

And that I'd have to leave behind

all those I dearly love.

But as I turned to walk away,

A tear fell from my eye,

For all my life, I'd always thought,

I didn't want to die.

I had so much to live for,

So much left yet to do,

it seemed almost impossible,

that I was leaving you.

I thought of all the yesterdays,

The good ones and the bad,

I thought of all that we shared,

And all the fun we had.

If I could relive yesterday,

Just even for a while,

I'd say good-bye and kiss you

and maybe see you smile.

But then I fully realized,

That this could never be,

For emptiness and memories,

would take the place of me.

And when I thought of worldly things,

I might miss some tomorrow,

I thought of you, and when I did,

My heart was filled with sorrow.

But when I walked through heaven's gates,

I felt so much at home.

When God looked down and smiled at me,

From His great golden throne,

He said, "This is eternity,

And all I've promised you."

Today your life on earth is past,

but here life starts anew.

I promise no tomorrow,

But today will always last,

and since each day is the same way,

There's no longing for the past.

So when tomorrow starts without me,

don't think we're far apart,

For every time you think of me

 

I'm right here,

in your heart "

 

(author unknown)

 

 

So now I sit and wait for some sort of wisdom or guidance, to know how I might best be of support to Lorie, her family and her mother, as she, herself writes the final chapter, the way she wishes the ending to be. Until then, my thoughts and prayers will be for peace.



Recognized


As I wrote this piece, I felt a warm glow around my heart; I knew it was your love. "Mom", with all my heart, I love you. Thank-you for being such a blessing in my life. You've been such an inspiration to me....
God bless you.....Nadine xoxo
Pays one point and 2 member cents.


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