Thursday, November 01, 2012

I Corinthians 15

In the last week, I've received bad news about the health of two different family members from opposite sides of my family.  Both have cancer and both have received poor prognoses.

Everyone has their own personal way of dealing with illnesses and dying. Some people want to be physically present at all times with the person when they're ill.  Some people want to send gifts.  Some people organize campaigns and races and rallies and pass out colored ribbons.  Me on the other hand, my personal style is denial. I try to pretend it's not really happening. "Once they do chemo, they'll be fine," I tell myself.  "They probably don't want all that attention anyway. Everything will be ok.  Everything will be as it always has been. Why should anything change?" But life has a different idea. Life always changes.

I'm trying to reroute this denial now, before it's too late. I'm trying to make sense of it all in my head before denial is no longer and option. "No," I tell myself.  "This person doesn't just have cancer.  They are dying."

And dying is such a strange thing.  People are here now, but they won't be for much longer. You feel like you need to tell them you care about them. You feel like you need to make the most of the time you have while they are still here.

And yet. Yet you never really know who's actually dying. It could be the friend who has cancer and is capital D Dying, or it could be the brother who is about to be in a sudden head-on collision car wreck. We don't really know who will be with us and for how long.  In reality, we are all dying because we all die. No one escapes death (or taxes for that matter). And yet, in spite of death, we keep living.

I think about my Bubbie (grandmother) who is 102-years-old.  She has seen scores of friends, family and loved ones pass away and leave her behind.  She has lived the equivalent of multiple lifetimes with multiple phases.  When she talks about her mother, (my great-grandmother) a woman who has been gone for more than sixty years, Bubbie's voice softens in admiration and respect, as if it were only yesterday that she was here on earth. She loved her mother deeply and I think is still grieving her loss.

And maybe that's why I prefer to be in denial about death. I don't fear my own death. But I don't want to lose others to it.  I don't want to be the one left behind. 


Kristi said...

amen sister. it's not the ending but the getting to the end that scares the heck out of me.

GD said...

Beautifully written