Dying is hard. The body refuses to give up. For others, the physical part of death is not the barrier. Instead, information processing is the hardest culprit. There are too many issues to address before the end. In other words, we run out of time. ‘Death’ grabs us when least expected and refuses to release us. Describing my process is like being in the grip of a boa constrictor.
Boa constrictors are not venomous. Instead, they squeeze the victim to death. The squeezing overwhelms the circulatory system, and the prey dies from ischemia. And therein I lay. I came to the acknowledgment this week that my body is slowly giving way. Life a slow-motion film, the amount of dizziness, the pain just below my rib cage, and the persistent fatigue slowly crept in each subsequent week. I sense it. No. Correction. It squeezes. I feel it. There are some days when I wish to fall asleep and call it a life.
I cannot seem to get enough sleep. Sleeping ten hours at night is lovely, but another three-hour afternoon nap follows that. Four hours later, I am ready for another ten hours of sleep. My sleeping habits were never this. Used to be that 7 to 8 hours of sleep was perfect. I would get up, go to work, and prepared for bed by 10:30 PM. Now, I want to sleep. I am told that several months before death, the dying person begins to sleep more. If that’s the case, I seem to mimic that sequence, though I have not become entirely uncommunicative to the outside world.
I still answer the phone, FaceTime relatives, and even go to the store. Sometimes, the physical act of running a quick errand is exhausting. The thought of getting dressed, going out for pizza, coming back, and eating is revolting. Going for pizza used to be a ‘no-brainer.’ Now, it requires a lot of thought weighing the pros and cons of why I gain and lose and whether that gain or loss is worth the pain and necessary sleep to recover. Yeah. Of course, it seems unfair. But life is unfair. Get used to it, for all this shit is coming to a body near you (euphemism for ‘you’). It sucks, but that’s the way it.
There are people who believe life doles out an equal amount of fairness and shit to everyone. Let me tell you, that’s a lie. I cannot help believe there are people who continually get the short end of the stick. Regardless of whatever level of effort expended, shit comes in waves. Oftentimes, it’s unfair. Oftentimes, it’s brutal. Over the past weekend, I doubled over onto the floor in pain. My ‘doubling over’ was so forceful that while in pain, I checked my watch to ensure it had not sent a distress call to paramedics. Part of me was hoping it did, another part 0wished it had not. In piercing moment of pain, quipped God, “Which fucking side are you on? Why are you torturing me?” The pain passed about ten minutes later, but the questioned lingered
“God? Which side are you on?” Ironically, in the movie The Longest Day, both sides quipped the same statement, “… wonder whose side God is on?” Biblically speaking, Joshua (Joshua 5:13-15) asked the question we ask, “Are you for us, or for our enemy?” (Joshua actually asked his question of the Eternal Captain, Commander of the Lord’s Army.) Biblical scholars usually turn the question around, “After reading Joshua, are you (as in you and I) fighting for God’s army or against Him?” It may be a fair question, but when laying on floor, doubled over in pain, and checking to ensure your watch hasn’t sent an auto-message or call to emergency responders, you’re likely to be asking, “God? Are you on my side.” I hope He’s on my side … at least in some way.
I know many who have experienced terminal cancer will state that ‘you’d truly’ hasn’t actually suffer squat. True enough. Maybe I have not. I certainly have not endured aggressive radiation and chemotherapy, multiple surgeries, and endless doctor appointments. I accepted fate. So, does this fact one an undeniable ‘bane’ of the universe? I have neither asked ‘why,’ nor for healing. I have neither asked to bypass the experience nor wished for it to go away. I have not even dared to ask for an easy death. I am simply asking, “God? Are you on my side?“
Biblically speaking again, Job took in the shorts. The guy got shafted. All-in-all, Job was pretty damn faithful. Then he kind of dared to symbolically ask, “What the f*** God? Are you on my side?” Of course Parkinson’s, tumors, and Osteoarthritis are by-products of this world. Seriously, human’s willingly kill each other, pollute everything we see, destroy our environment, eat crap that’s nutritionally void of anything, and then as we lay dying we have the audacity to ask, “God? Are you on my side?”
Laid beset by pain, I realized the boa constrictor (i.e., ‘death’) was wrapping itself around me, and there was no way out. In truth, I am no different than anyone else who is dying. In our way, each of us will find our own truth, wisdom, and peace. I am learning just how quickly time flew by. As the Ghost of Christmas Present said, “…time is short time, and suddenly, you’re not there anymore.” But even as I lay on the floor, in that very moment, I really knew God was with me. He’s been there all along. Knowledge of this self-awareness brings a certain sense of peace, even in pain.
I know the constrictor will continue. It’s an inevitable truth. One the way to death, we’ll likely be torn, smashed, bashed, and pierced. It is. In those moments that God strips our pride, our selfishness, and ego. And when that occurs, God steps in to reclaim the beauty of out life and our soul.