Is it possible for God to look upon human frailty and feel compassion? Some days I wonder. I wonder if He remembers what it’s like to walk the earth, see the pain, look upon the hunger, go back to heaven and ask what’s for dinner. Meatloaf? “Great.” Wine from a heavenly vineyard? “Awesome.” Regardless of what God thinks, I am exhausted. Simply, going to the doctor for a blood draw or through a supermarket feels like a gargantuan task. I no longer walk, I shuffle. Rigidity and sagging stomach drooling over my belt graces anyone who dares to stare. Doing any more than two tasks at the same time is challenging. Back in the safety of my car, I lay against the headrest and thought of the previous week. I completed the task at hand—preparing for inevitability.
I spent this past week saying goodbye. Sure, I should have started this shortly after receiving a terminal diagnosis nearly two years ago. Remember? The days when I could still leap from a couch, hold a coffee cup, a plate with a bagel while simultaneously carrying on a conversation via Bluetooth headset. “Death? What death?” I sometimes smirked. “Dude, that’s like a couple years away,” a defiant inner voice responded. Continuing, “A lot of things could happen between then and now. Miracles could occur. And I could be one of them.” I wasn’t.
If you’ve read my blog, you’ve known I never believed in miracles from some Devine interceder were meant for me. I pretty much accepted my fate, even now. I just knew that whatever time I had left, it could be the last time to experience. Flying to see my mother and father, flying to see my brother, that beach walk on the Florida Panhandle, the desert sky, and that walk with Skip, my father’s dog. Just as my doctors said, I always knew I could be within weeks, days or hours of death. The October 19th event brought clarity.
For the 60 years of life, my family consisted of four: my father, mother, brother, and I. We grew up, went on to extend our inner circle, but at its core, there were just us four. 2021 brings a future of absences, absences that will weave through the family core as my father and I are likely to depart. My parents will never have another child and my brother will never have another brother. I looked at 60 years of documents spread across the Livingroom floor, deciding what to send, what to trash, what to donate. Yesterday, my life finished with 499 pieces of documents stuffed into a folder that will be distributed when I’m near death or dead.
Even in death, my will will continue on earth, at least for a brief moment. There will be bills to be paid, assets to transfer, assets to sell, writings to be mused of, and potential awakenings with “What the hell possessed him to do that?” When people look at this material, I hope the world knows I approached my finality with clarity, that decisions were made from a position of reason, intellect, compassion, honesty and love. Looking through the pictures and documents, I notice how feelings are difficult to discover—and often even more difficult to acknowledge. Yet hidden in the deepest feeling is a higher truth. Many will find a sense that finally that “f***ing bastard is gone.” Even in anger, it was my goal for love to live and survive.
Sure, I’ve seen the same basic instincts in others facing death. An eighty-year old nun who talked about God’s penchant for miracles as a cough settled in; died two days later from COVID. Then a close friend, an Emergency Room Chaplin, who feared no such thing a COVID because she always took precautions, wrote via email to update us on her struggle to breathe after COVID diagnosis. In truth, I am not that desperate to stay alive.
While I did have a blood draw this morning, I didn’t need the test to tell me if a treatment is working. I can feel life’s edge. The climax closes quickly and inherently, I have an internal knowing I will stop soon. As such, I can feel for those who will unwillingly envision a life without me. My heart aches but I don’t know how to help. As I finished sorting my life, I accepted that there’s a part of the preplanning process that cannot be resolved. One can resolve logistical problems of death, but how does one alleviate pain? My mother will suffer. And maybe for a fleeting moment, my brother will as well. Nothing I say or do will help as much as time. The laws of planetary evolution don’t allow one to relive dreams. To those who hurt, time will be your friend. It will remove the intensity of the hottest of rage and, yes, even the most heartbreaking sorrow. It will heal you. And you will become free to live again.