Over the last few weeks, the topic of life & death has been in high volume. As a nurse- I see lots of death & have become what some might say as ‘quite numb or callused’ to it.
My view of death & life has been greatly changed over the last few years as my experiences all over the world have opened my eyes. For so long, as many parts of my life & within my mind, death & life were compartmentalized. The nice neat boxes I kept them in on the high shelf of the filing cabinet of my mind, were all at once picked up, unwrapped, & opened wide. The walls of the boxes were torn down exposing the hidden secrets inside. The secrets God wanted me to know, to experience.
Death in my own family & death from strangers I took care of became the practice ground of the knowledge He was feeding me.
Death is a part of life, just as much as birth-- the only permanent thing of this world besides tattoos- only because they still stick with you after death- they just look different as skin ages & melts away in yet another box 6 feet under.
Death was not something I feared, but something I saw others fear.
I saw death in a different light in Nigeria. It seemed to be fully embraced by all. A family member got sick- went to the hospital- poor prognosis, they gathered the family around, spent time together, words together, last memories shared & they died. It was seen as a part of life.
How different it is in America. Fear is coupled with the word death.
What about death are we afraid of… all that will be missed, all that wasn’t done, all that wasn’t said, or is it what lies after. Do we just stop existing or is there more—hell, heaven, eternity in one of the two.
Do you know where you will go?
Are 100% sure?
This is what makes life so wonderful- security of knowing eternity is yet to come. For me- eternity with Jesus far outweighs that of this life on Earth. But for most- 100% assurance is not coupled with death or eternity.
As I looked into his face, as he shook uncontrollably with Parkinson’s & dementia, between gulps of thickened water he gasps for air, I saw life.
I also saw death coming & as ease of someone who had no clue it was wuickly approaching. As he talked about doing his grandma’s dishes, letting the youngster at the door crawl into bed with him so he could sleep, & pulling the blanket up to his mouth to chew on… this man was none the wiser.
Ninety-six years of life lay in bed before me with nothing but smiles & stories. Hating hearing the sound of his audible junky lungs filling up with fluid, I wanted his stories to continue, but fought with the notion that peace is coming with his last breaths around the bend.
I thought for a moment- “how did I get this privilege to do this? to see people of all ages & walks of life exit this world & begin eternity? to be present with someone, caring for them in their last moments.”
I thought of the conversation my girlfriends & I have been having the last few days about this very thing…
Death being certain, time being uncertain, & what do we do?
His eyes stare back at me as he offers some of his thickened water to me, & my eyes fill with tears. I wished I knew what he did, where he lived, how many children, what he had seen & heard & done. Did he love Jesus?
He didn’t even realize it was Easter until I told him, & he smiled. Maybe a flash of what Easter meant flew through his mind & heart. I wonder how he celebrated Easter all these years.
As the rambling of stories & nonsense phrases came out- I rubbed his arm & held his hand. This precious trembling hand—he sunk back in his bed & relaxed.
I thought of Jesus praying in the garden hours before his arrest. All he asked His disciples to do was stay up & pray with Him.
Wait up with Him as He anguished over His last moments before death.
It hit hard as I swallowed the lump in my throat.
Wait up with him…