So, amidst my week of reflection this just had to come out... Warning: this is not my usually light hearted take on life but it is honest. I'm not sure why I need to say this now, but here goes....
In college I took a class with an older gentleman professor, Dr. Parker, which was unlike any other class ever. The class was called “Death and Dying”. We learned about the stages of grief, reflected upon our experiences with death, and stages of death for a terminally ill person. It was the best and most eye opening class I have taken ever. Since this time (10 years ago), the beloved Dr. Parker himself has crossed over. A man of great faith and character his legacy lives on. My own reflection for the class had much of the following in it, but in the past 10 years I could add a couple extra chapters to this story…
I have been around death my entire life. As a child I remember going with my preacher man dad quite often as he prayed with someone who was dying. As a teenager, I vividly remember sitting in the room of a lady I loved deeply and as my dad walked out of the room I felt death so strongly it might have well been a man sitting in the room. I’ve had many people give me advice before they left this earth or offer perspective on how to live my life. This has been an ultimate honor to share with them in their final months, weeks, or even days.
I’ve sat with my grandmother and pretended to rub her legs like she begged me to, when they were already amputated. I’ve had the opportunity to read and reread the last texts and save forever the last voicemails of two of my girlfriends that were taken too soon, both from separate unusual circumstances trying my best in my own way to hold onto them. I have mourned the loss of people that have taken their own lIves, only to yell at God later about why it couldn’t have been prevented. I have sat with my friends in silence as they have lost a parent or sibling. I have met death and I have seen the aftermath of its possible destruction. I have also seen death as a means to bring people together and allow them a message that would otherwise they would have been blind to for the remainder of their own lives. I have seen the loss of children (babies, young, teens, and adult children) and the unbearable grief on their parents.
All of my beloved grandparents are passed and many, many more people who I looked to as my own grandparents. I am beyond blessed to have both of my parents alive and with me. My dad, being a former alcoholic and now severe diabetic has multiple health issues including kidney failure. He has told me on more than one occasion that when he passed to know that he will be with Christ, his great love and salvation, and that he will be with me whatever way possible. Now that I am a mother I understand the most intense love and with that the unimaginable fear of ever losing one of my precious ones. This fear almost paralyzed me at times, afraid to even leave home on several occasions. My friend assured me, “Fear is not of God.” That helps me to go on and trust that his love and guidance will lead me in not living a life in fear.
It is no secret I believe in the fact that by surrendering to the love and grace of Christ I have truly made a vow of commitment that will eventually lead to a life of eternity with him. This goodness has spread as a seed in my heart to a fire that I wish I could share with all I love. This unquenchable peace has given me a love for all people, something that could never be explained by human nature. It is appointed for every man to die. We will meet death one day, and having the assurance that I will be walking hand in hand with the most perfect love possible gives me the peace that I need to face my own mortality.
As far as my own grief over those I have lost and aiding others in their grief I can only say that death is a part of life. I truly believe in how we deal with it by remembering our loved ones and how we live our lives to honor them is a testament to them. An example of this in my own life is honoring the life of my friend April in the way that I treat my friends now. April always had an open door for everyone. She listened to each person with an open heart and offered them her best insight, always staying down to earth and never judgmental. With her passing I have examined myself as a friend, taking the best traits of her and trying to honor her by doing the same. Her life has made me a better person. I hope that one day someone can say that of me. Every time I wish I could go to the phone and call her my heart breaks yet I know she would tell me that she knows and “get on with it” per say.
Exactly. Those of us left behind have to “get on with it” – trying to live a life that would make those we miss proud. We cannot change the lives of the ones gone before us, but we can change our own and encourage the ones around us. Constantly seeking our spiritual purpose, knowing that one day we will feel the presence of death like I did that day in the room. The goal of meeting it not in fear, but with a heart full of love and peace for the life we have lived.