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Friday, September 11, 2009

Stinging Winds: The Reality of Mortality

Most of us have noticed that a lot of high profile folks have passed over the last several weeks. Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Walter Cronkite, Billy Mayes, Ted Kennedy, Ed McMahon, Steve MacNair, and the list goes on. Some young, some very old. Many of the celebrities were baby boomers. My parents were part of the last few years of that 'boom.' In my head I still feel 19. My parents are still young - aren't they? My kids are still babies. Am I really going to be a member of the 'sandwich generation' soon? Taking care of my kids and my aging parents at the same time?
Alas, the beating of time marches on. Friends, parents, in-laws, celebrities, friends' grandparents, my grandparents (and myself!) are all aging. Illnesses that I saw while working at the children's hospital that were generally speaking cured, are taking lives at that later end of the aging spectrum.
The other fascination I have is the legacy that these folks are leaving behind them.
One leaves behind crushed little girl emotions and a legacy of abandonment. The abandonment continues in the family's complete denial of her existence, along with her 4 children and 3 grandchildren.
Another will leave behind decades of dedicated service to God, hundreds of beloved church members, dear children and grandchildren and countless ones who were like 'one of his own.'
Another will leave sooner than she should, and she won't even know why or who is even around her, most of her memories erased.
And despite the fact that I have learned over the years of my life - even from the age of 6 - how to deal with death of close loved ones and family members, I am not sure how to handle this part of life.
I don't know how to do this part. I feel like the little girl sitting at the kitchen table struggling with math homework, only its much more important than that. And I feel like there is no one to guide me to tell me how to do this one. I really have to figure it out for myself. And I want to cry. I want to go out to a cold and stormy ocean pier and let the stinging winds beat against my face in a cathartic exercise seeking relief, seeking a way to order this grief and find a way to go on with life.
But the teachers that I once had did give me one thing: Christ. They may have failed in their humanity to live perfect lives. They may have dealt with their own difficulties, and not always risen to the occasion. Sometimes they made the wrong choices. But gratefully I accept the one theme that repeated itself - himself - through the corridors of time. Christ. This is the guide that they learned to turn to, and the One that I need to seek more often than I do. As these folks coped they turned to Him, and it worked, just as He promised it would. He was there for them. He is there for us, and for me.
So, Teacher, how do I do this part?

1 comment:

  1. Hi! As the organizer of the Smoky Mountain 912 Project, you hit my feelings right on the head with this one. I feel we don't have time to get it wrong and have to go back and correct our mistake. Not this time. I have never felt more pressure and now my dad has passed and he was my rock, my mentor, my hero. 9 years he's been gone and it still feels like yesterday. Every October when my birthday rolls around part of me still expects my "Daddy rose" that he always bought and left on my doorstep while I was at work. Childish, yes, embarrassing, NEVER! Someday I hope to leave behind that immense feeling of belonging that I felt from my dad and my grandparents. There's just something to be said about knowing you're in the right place, doing the right thing. Yes, it's hard to figure out what to do, because OH! so often I just asked Daddy and he told me, I did it, dismissed it, and never thought of it again. Now, I have to figure out what to do, what HE would have done, and do it, and REMEMBER and tell my kids. With age comes a tremendous responsibility. That's what the white hair is for. I'm getting there at 42. A few stray white hairs here and there. The Bible says they are a sign of wisdom. I only hope that's the case.