Tag Archive: Death


“Cancer is like being stuck in the middle of the road with a bus barreling down on you, but you can’t tell how close it is or when it’s going to hit you.”

~Susanne Kraus-Dahlgren~

I flew into St. Louis Friday to attend a memorial for a coworker who passed about a week prior. I remember the call.

Heart attack,” Ms. J. muttered while listening in stunned silence.

The pause was long.

Heart attack,” she whispered in disbelief.

Bob J. was a year-and-a-half older. At 61, he lived a wonderful life and was appreciated by many. Husband, father, caretaker to many abused pets. He was also a suffering Cubs fan. And if he had watched the ending of yesterday’s Cubs-Cardinals game in St. Louis last night, he be dead. So, maybe he got lucky.

Like many before us, I took it for granted that Bob would be around for years. I never told him of my tumor. I never bothered to figure out how I would broach the subject, I just figured he would always be around and I would ‘get to it.’

Life is strange. I attended the Saturday memorial. Late afternoon, I sit listening to jazz pumped via a Bluetooth headset while sipping ice tea at Barnes and Noble. In a few hours, I will sit at a bar and watch the Boston Bruins-St. Louis Blues hockey game. And all the while, I will look upon the lives before me and realize life goes on. Life always does. The world didn’t stop for Bob. It won’t stop for me either.

Of course old acquaintances gathered and gabbed memoriors from a life unavailable.

Ah, the good ol’ days,” Larry chuckled.

Ah, the ‘good ol’ days.’ It was a life before downsizing, when our business hummed at breakneck speeds. Bob, myself and countless others were part of that life. We remembered a life filled with Bob; a life filled with each other; a life filled with laughter. We told tall stories. We laughed. We shook hands. We promised to LinkedIn. We promised to connect. We promised to stay in touch.

We won’t.

None know my story. So, within the course of the normal ‘getting to know you‘ conversation, there are landmines to navigate . . . like how much to say. Friendships are fragile–come too strong, be written off–wait too long, become insincere. I mean, when is the right time to drop the “I’m going to die” bomb?”

How you doing?

Me?” pointing to myself. “Oh, I am going to die in a couple years. Maybe sooner.

Most haven’t learned what I learned, that the beautiful death portrayed by heroes and heroines in Hollywood film is an exception, not the rule.

Prior to Bob’s memorial, I took a customary shower. Gazing for a moment in the mirror, I realized how thin I’ve become. Clothes don’t longer fit. A belt with extra holes that compensates for a dwindling waste. Skin tinged from small streaks of purple, a byproduct of drugs oozing through my veins. There will be no verbal cue. No one will say it. But their eyes will verify that the rose-tinted death we all aspire will not occur me.

As a Buddhist, I realize y body is rented. The day is rented. Nothing will last. And if we live from a mindset of “I am entitled to this,” or “I deserve such-and-such,” we’ll get stuck trying to hold onto something no longer there. Either we change or the world will force us to change.

There are many lessons. First, life goes on – until it doesn’t. Second, the idea of having time for preparation, a time to say goodbye, to receive love and give love, is the kind of death any would choose is wonderful. We all want a death, without suffering, to do what we want to do. Only a handful will get it.

It would poetic for me to say my death should be free of pain, free from suffering, free of deterioration, and free of complications. But that’s not death. That’s a dream. Therefore, the goal should be to have a deeper compassion for others and a greater appreciation for the life that remains.

In doing that, life will go on. And that’s the final lesson Bob taught.

After reading Rebecca Byerly’s piece in the New York Times, one cannot help but think of themself.

Isabella de la Houssaye and her daughter, Bella, struggled to breathe in the thin air of the high Andes as they trudged up a zigzag trail to the top of Aconcagua, the highest summit outside the Himalayas.

At an elevation of about 22,840 feet, it is often called “the roof of the Americas.” At this height, breathing is difficult and the risk of debilitating, even fatal, altitude sickness is a reality even for the strongest climbers.

Isabella has Stage 4 lung cancer, which makes breathing especially hard.

Houssaye made plans to go on adventures — maybe the final ones — with each of her children, ages 16 to 25. Climbing to “the roof of the Americas” with her daughter Bella was one of them.

I have to admit, Ms. Houssaye is both pretty damn strong and admirable. After my diagnosis, no such thoughts ever came to me. While it’s true I have no children; climbing mountains was never a personal forte. It’s not that I don’t have ‘desire,’ but I presume the term ‘desire‘ would be different for each person.

Several weeks prior, I Googled ‘things to do after a terminal diagnosis.’ Google retrieved an accouterment of suggested links, but each mostly centered upon either financial or ‘bucket list.’

Financially speaking, I both a will, and living will. Car paid? Check. Home paid? Check. Will updated? Check. Bucket list created? Check. Check. Check. And so on.

Moving to the bucket list, I compared mine to those found online. The first thought online writers conveyed was accountability. Meaning that If you made a bucket list goal public, theoretically others would hold you accountable. Should such accountability exist, one is much more likely to accomplish said goal(s).

Many writers start with travel. Visit Asia. Hmm, did that. Africa? Check. Australia? Check. Europe? Check. South America? Check. All 50 states in America? Check? Yosemite National Park? Check. North Pole (that’s North Pole, Alaska)? Check.

There are specific items such as Heli-Ski in Valdez, Alaska. Nope, no interest. Sell a House for a Profit? Check, been there, did that. Attend Coachella Music Festival? No interest. Experience Burning Man? No interest. Be an extra in a Hollywood movie? No interest. Whitewater rafting at Cherry Creek, California? No interest. Bench press 200 lbs? Been there, did that. Have coffee with the CEO of a Fortune 500 company? Did that (but had to listen to how wonderful he was in comparison to everyone else). Fly in a Fighter Jet? Did that. Parachuted? Yup. Spend a day shooting video with Peter McKinnon?

Who the heck is Peter McKinnon? … Sorry, I digressed.

So, did I learn anything of value? My one point of note came from Michael Riley’s 2017 column, 7 Life Lessons from the Movie “The Bucket List.

“Imagine you were told you had 6–12 months left to live,” he wrote. “Talk about terrifying. What would you do with your time left?”

Riley’s list included three that gave pause for thought.

  1. Death often comes out of nowhere.
  2. Find the joy in your life.
  3. Bring joy to other people’s lives.

In the movie “The Bucket List,” Carter tells Edward that when death occurs, the gods ask the person two questions: First, “Have you found joy in your life?” Second, “Has your life brought joy to others?” My experience with those dying suggest most neither remember the joy found in living nor the amount of joy brought to others.

Life isn’t meant to be all about me. Yes, my dreams and goals matter, but it’s really about my impact and legacy. How many people’s lives can I touch while I’m here? Likewise, how many people’s lives can you touch while you’re here? How can you be a role model for others?

Maybe therein lay the best to-do list for everyone. One To-do: What can I do with the remaining portion of my life that will bring joy to others?

On December 22, 1944, at about 11:30 in the morning, a group of four German soldiers, waving two white flags, approached the American lines using the Arlon Road just south of Bastogne.

The Germans sent soldiers to take the American surrender. Awoken from a deep sleep, Brig. Gen. McAuliffe, said “Nuts!” The response was typed and delivered by Colonel Joseph Harper, commanding the 327th Glider Infantry, to the German delegation. It read accordingly:

December 22, 1944

To the German Commander,

NUTS!

The American Commander.

In March, I read of a Kaiser Permanente robot rolling into a patients room in the intensive care unit and telling an elderly patient by video he would likely die within days. In some ways, I felt more fortunate. Mine were posted on my EHR account. It was ‘transactional.’

A tumor in the neck measuring 4.1 x 2.3 in transaxial dimensions and 3.7 cm in height (1.6 inches x .9 inches x 1.4 inches), surrounding the spinal cord and C5-C6. Preliminary indication benign. Requires biopsy. Metastatic or secondary tumors may spread from another site. Delicate neural structures will complicate treatment, resulting in nerve compression, spinal deformation and compromised bone strength.

There’s good news and bad news. Good news: Highly likely the tumor is benign. Bad news: Tumor is the size of a walnut, surrounds the spinal cord and or nerves. Prognosis? Nuts.

Nuts!

Every day someone gets the news that a loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal disease. The shock, accompanied by a ferocious sense of foreboding and a powerful dose of premature grieving, can be overwhelming and paralyzing. However, my first inclination was not despair. The gnawing torment some experience never occurred. No nausea. No dread. No anxiety. Using the Kubler-Ross five stage model as a measuring stick, I leapfrogged denial, anger, bargaining, depression and landed on acceptance.

I’ve known since 2014 that my internal clock was running out. I cannot explain it. I instinctively knew death was nearing. My time working in hospitals reveals that even if loved ones refuse to discuss death, the patient knows it is coming. I just presumed it would have been quicker, for five years later, I’m still around. However, in the annals of life, 5 years ago is just a moment ago.

So, what’s next?” my boss asked.

I doled out a usual quip, “Burning a hole through my deductible.”

What I really thought was “Relationships.”

Author Karen J. Warren wrote in 2016 that she was diagnosed with terminal illness. As she confronted the truth about her medical condition. She articulated the personal, philosophical, and medical issues when discussing end-of-life options. However, the following stays with me.

I knew that what gives my life meaning, what really matters to me, are relationships—relationships with myself, with other people, with animals, with the natural world. Creating or nurturing these relationships is what I value most.

The precious time I have left matters! I found myself asking, “Will doing this or saying that make a positive difference to my health or enhance my well-being?” For example, does it make a difference to me whether I participate in a research program, take an X-ray or have a mammogram? My guiding principle has been this: “If doing something makes a positive difference in my life or enhances my well-being, then do it; if it doesn’t, then don’t do it.”

So, nuts.

I will do something that many fail to do: Focus on things that will make a positive impact.

You should too.

Pre-accident, my parents were a lively young eighty-year-old something couple. Post-accident, I look through my father’s eyes and see life’s bewilderment. Hmm, the future for both of us is an uneasy fear – an fear of the future and declining health. Pre-accident, my father was lively, inspired and full of wonder. Post-accident, he sits in an easy chair, moves little and stares endlessly into repeat episodes of NCIS.

At dinner, my mother discussed how many members of the 55+ retirement community often commit suicide after receiving terminal diagnosis. “Somehow,” she muttering string through her coffee, “I thought our final years would be different.”

After 14 years in the medical industry, I with certainty that the final years for the majority will be unlike any Hollywood film illusion. In “On Golden Pond,” Henry Fonda’s character, Norman, is similar to my father.

“You want to know why I came back so fast? I got to the end of our lane. I couldn’t remember where the old town road was. I went a little ways in the woods. There was nothing familiar. Not one damn tree. Scared me half to death.”

Many of us in the shimmering landscape of life will seemingly suffer needlessly. Living this life means all of us will have to navigate the constant demand of human growth and change. And what my father is living is fear. It’s the same fear his father lived, and his father’s father. Like Norman, the road for all leads to nothing familiar.

Everyone ages differently. Then if we must age, as all do, we must age differently than our fathers and refuse the role of victim or recluse. We must remain interested in maintaining relationships, remain nonjudgmental and approach our “twilight” with a sense of adventure.

In life, and in death, in order for us to understand the ideals of harmony and peace, a certain amount of discord and dissonance must be endured. Human frailty tests the limits of personal endurance. Yet if we overcome our frailty, even in death, we join the cycle of the seasons and become what God has always wished – perfection.

Ganges River 2What is a good death? What defines a good death?

In a beautiful price on Public Radio International, Atul Gawande talked about the biggest checklist that relatives and an aging family have to make — what conditions should occur in which a family member should be allowed to die.

People talk about wanting to have a good death. I don’t know if I believe in a good death. There’s lots of things that aren’t dignified about dying. He soiled his bed. We had to put a urinary catheter in him when he became so paralyzed he couldn’t pee anymore. He was almost shrinking in front of us. How is dying ever at all acceptable? How is it ever anything other than this awful terrible thing?

The only way it is … is because we as human beings live for something bigger than ourselves.

But there was something about the ritual of the same thing that families have been going through for thousands of years and we were doing it. And you could almost feel the links of hands across generations.

What I felt on the Ganges was he had brought us there and connected himself to all that was important to him, but he was connecting us as well.

There was a kind of handoff occurring. That we are a link in chain and making a contribution that goes well beyond our own life. And that’s part of what makes dying tolerable. That’s what makes — being a mortal creature — tolerable.

As one who should have been dead already, I found this piece very moving. As a Buddhist, I don’t have a fear of death or unnatural hurry to get there. However, as man whose heart could give way at any moment, there have been many days I wish the Angel of Death would descend and carry me away.

But just as Atul Gawande noted, I long for the links – to look for my friend Kanako, to touch the hand of a loved one, of those lost and of friends who’ve stood beside me for all these years. Yes, it’s about the links.

It’s in the links.

serenityThere’s always a strange weirdness felt when being followed. Sudden inexplicable moments where one senses a curious onlooker, a faint breeze where none could be found, a gentle touch when none are around. At times, I even felt Ms. K’s presence. For me, the past several weeks have been filled with the invisible, yet visible.

Maybe these moments were angels surrounding me with a sense of peace. Although unusual, such experiences might also be attributed to the disease lying stealthily within. Better yet, maybe these are the last futile moments of a broken man whose life has seemingly accounted for little. In either case, I am both touched and perplexed by such random experiences. I often wish to explore them as friends versus some episodic tryst of nature.

Last night’s sleep began like any other night. Bathe, brush and floss, open the window to adsorb the cool 62 degree night air and slip beneath the sheets. The 30 gallon aquarium hum offered a serenity of peace as water circularly percolated. Before slipping into dream, there were no unusual thoughts, no obsessive task boring through my mind. I was at ease, at peaceful.

2:36 AM drew quickly, as the severe pain tore through my left shoulder, radiating down my left arm. Mentally, I knew right away … another heart attack. I remember blurting to my phone, ‘Siri! Call Hospital.‘ To which I laid silently, resigned to succumbing.

Everything went quiet and felt as though sleeping. There was no pain. No struggle. Silence. An inexplicable sense of peace. For a brief moment I just felt as if everything was alright, like a huge weight had been lifted and I could finally be free.

I awoke finding the Fire Department Paramedic, “Welcome back.” I quickly retorted, “Sorry to have awoken you. I meant to have this heart attack at 2:36 PM.”

Processing this morning, I at no time felt death was the end, it seemed to merely signal the end of body. The spirit seemed to remain at a higher purpose. I saw no angels but but I also knew she was there. Simply put, I felt love.

Some Buddhists claim the way we pass reflects the way we lived our lives. Thus, a good death (if death could ever be considered good) places a ‘good stamp‘ on a life well lived. Personally, in light of many horrific tragedies, can one really place such connotations upon the victims of Flight MH17, Japan or Indonesia tsunami victims or children shot by stray bullets in an apartment complex in Chicago?

What I am reminded of is of the closeness of death. I will emphasize an importance in getting to know death and take time to prepare, to those whom you do love. Secondly, live in a manner you believe is responsible, good and positive for yourself and towards others. This leads to calmness, happiness and an outlook which contributes to a calm and controlled mind.

Lead a compassionate life and have no regrets. Be grateful for what we have but do not clutch and cause ourselves to suffer more than needed.

~Peace~

 

BlacksquareSix days after the Boeing 777 was shot down over the battlefields of eastern Ukraine, the first bodies finally arrived in the Netherlands, a country that bore the heaviest toll in flight MH17. As a lone bugler sounded the traditional “Last Post,” traffic ceased, church bells tolled and citizens stood in both silence and tears as a country offered a dignified return where Russia could not. Where Putin failed, Russian citizens did not.

Outside the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Russian citizens expressed their condolences and sorrow over the downing of flight MH17 over Eastern Ukraine, a solemn reminder that there is rarely little difference between the people of one nation to another.

Flags at foreign embassies within Moscow flew half-mast, in solidarity with the Dutch declaration for a day of mourning. One touching point worth mentioning is that some Russian citizens wrapped themselves in Gold/Blue flags, the colors of Ukraine, and others draped themselves in the red-white-blue of the Netherlands flag.

For Putin, none of events seemed worthy of his attention. Instead, Putin criticized the sanctions the US and EU imposed on Russia, which began before and after the MH17 plane crash.

The very concept of the state [Russian] sovereignty is becoming diluted. Unwanted regimes and countries that are trying to exercise independent policy or simply stand in the way of someone’s interests are getting destabilized,” Putin said.

Oh Mr. Putin, trying saying “…Unwanted regimes and countries standing in the way of someone’s interest …” to any Malaysia Flight MH17 victim. Who speaks for them?

CNN analyst, Fareed Zakaria noted, “We should be aware of the fact that this is truly a historically defining moment. If we do the things we need to do, if we are firm and clear, but also somewhat flexible, we can still give Putin the chance to redeem himself and to rejoin the community of nations.”

Seriously, I simply ask, “Does Putin even deserve to join the community of nations?”

It’s hard to imagine … one day the world looks so beautiful; the next day it’s awful. Scientifically, it seems impossible for the world to change so radically. But as lovers, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, family and friends, we’re forced to reconcile that the world does change, sometimes quite significantly. Ecclesiastes 3:3 tells of there being “… a time for everything under heaven, a time for giving birth and a time for dying, a time for killing and a time for healing, a time for war and a time for peace.”

I don’t buy Ecclesiastes 3:3. All I see is a missing symphony of love, laughter, peace, joy and miracles – so many unfinished notes.

Citizens of Netherlands are changing their Facebook profile pictures and Twitter avatars to black squares and using #BringThemHome to commemorate the 193 Dutch citizens killed when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine on July 17.

To honor all those we’ve lost, I do the same.

imageJust one day after the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 14 faith leaders wrote President Obama requesting a religious exemption in his planned executive order barring hiring discrimination based on sexual orientation by federal contractors:

… an extension of protection for one group not come at the expense of faith communities whose religious identities and beliefs motivate them to serve those in need.” And, “Without a robust religious exemption . . . this expansion of hiring rights will come at an unreasonable cost to the common good, national unity and religious freedom…

In opposition, a June 2014 letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, signed by over 90 religious, civil rights, women’s, and LGBT rights groups maintained:

“Religious Freedom Restoration Act should not be interpreted or employed as a tool for broadly overriding statutory protections against religious discrimination or to create a broad free exercise right to receive government grants without complying with applicable regulations that protect taxpayers.”

The 14 faith leaders aren’t appealing to law, but rather to Obama’s own history of opposing same-sex marriage and stated goals when forming the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. However, while many of the faith leaders who openly requested exemption publicly emphasize all people are created equal in both divine image and love, they imply reaching consensus may be impossible. So rather than even try, a case is made for religious bigotry.

Basically, these religious leaders are requesting the ‘right‘ to discriminate via religion. Apparently Jesus recognizes ‘equality‘ is difficult and that being homophobic and discriminatory, is at times, ok. In truth, these are not moral, loving people … they’re assholes. When discriminating, the impact is not limited to that specific person. Mothers, fathers, children, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, and grandparents feel bigotry’s burden.

Using religious dogma trivializes people, demeans loved ones, their life and families. Zen Buddhism doesn’t make a distinction between same-sex and opposite-sex relationships. Instead, the expectation is not to harm, exploit or manipulate others, which would directly violate the third precept. For instance, Zen Buddhists often refer to hedonism, ascetic masochism and prostitution as practices that violate the “Middle Way.”

If two people have taken no vows and both love each other, why should sexual orientation matter?

With YouDear Ms. J:

Over the past several weeks, I’ve sat across from countless nursing home patients and families discussing their prognoses. Somehow, the standard pieces include “it’s a marathon, not a sprint, so get your daily rest” and “illness can drive a family apart or bring it together — be aware of each other’s needs and find extra support.”

Having been given such a “grim” diagnosis so many years ago I abhor the “days to a few weeks,” “weeks to months,” “months to years,” “a few years to a decade or more.” In my case, I was cited detailed statistics, including twenty-five years of good life. But today, any one of us can readily find counterpoints for and against just about anything, let alone the types of challenges you and I face.

I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis also thirty-years on Good Friday. And for many months, I knew I had something, so I wasn’t all that surprised. In fact, there was a certain relief. The next steps were clear: console the spouse, refinance the mortgage, write overdue letters to friends I thought I would never write, plan trips, make amends and other assorted details I meant to do in life, but nothing could be more obvious when your day’s work included the next paycheck or this … or that.

In theory, if I knew how many months or years I actually had left, I would bucket list the whole thing. Three months, I’d just spend time with an annoying family to remind me how MS was actually a blessing. A year? I’d have a plan. Ten years, I’d skip the drama and get back to life.

In truth, I can’t tell you a time. But I can tell you to find what matters most to you.

There are no easy answers. Biblically speaking, the Bible is full of different stories in which God relates to humanity in times of tragedy and pain.  Some suggest God uses calamity to punish the unfaithful; others that God uses tragedy to instruct us or improve us.  Still others suggest God remains far off, disconnected, choosing instead to leave us to whatever catastrophes befall us.

Bart Ehrman, professor of religion at the University of North Carolina, once said he turned from his evangelical upbringing and became agnostic because he found Christianity incapable of answering a simple question: How could there be a God when there is so much suffering in the world?  He found it difficult to believe in a loving God when there is so much in the world that is without love.

And there are many days when I can concur with Professor Ehrman. Still I reflect upon Nicholas Wolterstorff, a professor of philosophy at Yale and a Christian, who lost his son in a mountain-climbing accident.  Like C. S. Lewis, he wrote about his struggle, and his pain, and his questions in a memoir entitled, Lament for a Son. There is a hole in the world now,” he wrote.  “In the place where he was, there’s not just nothing…  I cannot make sense of it by saying ‘God did it’, but neither can I do so by saying, ‘There was simply nothing God could do about it.’

So where is God? Well, I can only state that God is in every hug, every kiss, every comforting word. God is in every tear, every ache and every sorrow.

And just as Christ is with me unto the end, so I am with you. I will be there as best I can.

john-quincy-adams-2About a week ago, I awoke suffering from tremendous vertigo, blurred vision in one eye, tremors, and a stiff neck with pain in the jaw.  Some might say, “Hell of a night Mr. Buddha.” Truthfully, this is just a part of the disease I must endure to the end.

Waiting for the usual plethora of tests, I’ve been asked several times about how I’m doing. When queried in such a manner, I internally reflect upon Quincy Adams last letter and quote, The Buddhist “… is well, but the house in which he lives at the present time is becoming dilapidated.”

I know the real battle is the not the disease, it’s within the mind. As CNN anchor Zain Verjee described her battle psoriasis, “My mind is living a separate life from the body beneath it.” Many sitting in the impractical and uncomfortable hospital lounge chairs understand the ocean of pain and fear crushes far worse than the disease. That fear slaughters and drives many from their faith. Likewise those clutching rosaries, religious revivals have swept through thousands of new converts.  Yet death’s angel culls both faithful and unfaithful equally.

All of us will stumble upon someone dying. Technically speaking, life itself is both sexually transmitted and terminal. But as we meet those transferring from this life to another, it’s important to remember: this is not about you. It’s about the person with the illness. If you are a friend you will need to get over your discomfort or get out of the way. Those dying really don’t want to console their visitors. For those suffering, romantic conceptions of the battle and gallant heroes riding to save day rarely come. No one visiting someone’s personal battlefield should ever regard life in quite the same fashion as before. Doing otherwise catapults one to being worse than the enemy.

If I can be so bold as to speak for others, being a compassionate and caring friend does not require personal experience identical to what I am living. Don’t disappear. Sure I represent your fear, but I also represent God’s love. Check in with me. Remind me that I’ve not been forgotten. Remind me that I’m your friend.

I will close with an excerpt from When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S. Kushner:

“Life is not fair. The wrong people get sick and the wrong people get robbed and the wrong people get killed in wars and in accidents. Some people see life’s unfairness and decide, ‘There is no God; the world is noting but chaos.’ Others see the same unfairness and ask themselves, ‘Where do I get my sense of what is fair and what is unfair? Where do I get my sense of outrage and indignation, my instinctive response of sympathy when I read in the paper about a total stranger who has been hurt by life? Don’t I get these things from God? Doesn’t He plant in me a little bit of His own divine outrage at injustice and oppression, just as He did for the prophets of the Bible? Isn’t my feeling of compassion for the afflicted just a reflection of the compassion He feels when He sees the suffering of His creatures?’ Our responding to life’s unfairness with sympathy and with righteous indignation, God’s compassion and God’s anger working through us, may be the surest proof of all of God’s reality.”

As Quincy Adams wrote, “Time and the seasons have nearly destroyed it; its roof is pretty well worn out.  Its walls are much shattered, and it trembles with every wind.”

But I my friends … I am having a great day.

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