My body is tired of being alive. My body, mind you, is not dying yet. It’s just tired. Of all the daily aches and pains and the seemingly few restful flu periods this past year, my body is saying, “This sucks.” A May 2021 NPR article noted the irony of living in a pandemic, “If your brain feels foggy and you’re tired all the time, you’re not alone.” A moment of reflection produced, ‘Good. Now I have an excuse.’ I never put a great deal of weight into courage and bravery. Hell, most are clueless about what I am going through. Daily battles of pain, excessive blood loss with every bowel movement, hip, lower back, and knee pain seem to be my ever-present companions. I don’t care about being remembered as a courageous person. I don’t. There’s just an incredible emotional and physical toll in just getting up and heading off to work at this point in life.

Sure some will claim, “Well, that’s the price for walking through this alone.” Regardless of your lot in life, I am convinced there’s an asshole who’ll disagree about how you lived it. Few will bother to understand it. No one will understand the lack of dignity when showering with blood dripping down the insides of your legs after a bowel movement. There’s no non-graphical way to explain it for all my trials and tribulations. “Hey, Joe. I lost a pint of blood while taking a dump today? And I watched whatever’s left dribble down the inside of my legs while showering. How was your day?” It is tough to explain how all this eats you, literally inside to outside.

There are many forms of medication I stopped taking. Why? Continuing with prescribed medications may make me feel good about doing “something,” but it’s not doing anything beneficial. Sure, the doctors could throw some radiation at me, maybe combine medications, or try something different. But what will one get? More fatigue? More pain? More blood loss? Or, will I get more pain but less blood loss? Then again, could I get more blood loss and less pain? Or will get I gain nothing? 

Truthfully, most of the combinations have been tried year-over-year without a lot of success. Someone may try to entice you with, “With believe this might work in your case?” Really? ‘My case?’ Why would any of this work in my case and not the other 15,000 souls before me? “Because you’re special,” a clinician once told me. ‘No,’ I thought. ‘I am not special, and this is unlikely to work.’ Your friends and family will tell you you’re special, but the God of Affliction, Pharika (overheard from two kids in an elevator talk about it), does not. 

For those who are dying, affliction does not disappear during Christmas. For those like me, physical or psychological pain presents an inner struggle. Maybe we want to become involved but lack physical stamina. For me, I face each day as though it will be the last I will experience. For instance, I approached Thanksgiving 2021 as the last Thanksgiving I will ever share. (That’s not saying I will.) Likewise, Christmas 2021 will be my last Christmas. As a result, how can I find joy in the experience? How can I God’s love through all the pain, the blood loss, and physical affliction? 

To those who know someone who is dying, Christ wants you to know that the ultimate relationship you can have is with someone who is dying. Some will become saddened by the knowledge that death will rob another relationship. Those left behind are broken for months (or in some cases, years) by the reality that they cannot return that which has been lost. However, if we accept the process of death, we can receive the most genuine Christian gifts: wisdom and compassion, both of which are found deep inside the soul. 

God’s level of wisdom and compassion can only be discovered. However, to find it, we must first let go of all we know. As we learned, Christ’s time was impermanent. He came in human form and left. However, just like others before, He left a roadmap on locating him. And even in my pain, blood loss, and affliction, I know I can find Him. And when I do, I am continually renewed in faith and love. That’s the true gift of God at Christmas. Discover Him. He awaits.