When This Life Ends

It’s been a rough couple of weeks in my hometown as recent events have driven home in stark reality the brevity of life.

Despite a diagnosis of bone cancer and through the rigors of the treatment that followed, Mrs. B. continued to teach 7th grade Science. When chemotherapy left her weak and exhausted, she persevered—even when she needed crutches to navigate the middle grade hallways. Over time she improved, grew stronger. And then a sudden respiratory virus hit her hard and she was gone.  The students she’d poured herself into, who’d cheered her on through her battle with cancer were devastated.file3291233869663.jpg
His prognosis good, M the custodian was scheduled to return to work in
seven days, following recuperation from a successful surgery to remove a tumor. His kindhearted, always-ready-to-lend-a-helping-hand presence had been missed at the school. Students and co-workers alike eagerly awaited his return. But his recovery was halted, forever, when complications from a blood clot ended his life.

Just one week after Mrs. B.’s unexpected passing. Again, students and staff struggled to understand and cope with the death of a mentor, a friend.

Miss S. was fun and lively. A 16-year-old, unashamed, committed follower of Christ. As she and her family came to grips with the recent diagnosis of a complex, chronic illness, she remained steadfast in her faith. And then a case of influenza turned deadly, and her too-short life came to an abrupt close. Waves of shock and grief swept through the community, hitting especially hard and heavy on her teen-aged friends and co-workers.

A mere eleven days after Custodian M’s sudden sojourn into eternity, the community gasped at yet another life cut short unexpectedly.

While we claim to grasp the reality that death is just a heartbeat away for any of us, actually, deep down, we expect life to go on and on. To not be snuffed out too early, too soon, or when we’re least expecting it.

Which is always because we never really anticipate or want death to come calling.

Except when we do expect it. And even accept it. .

Via Facebook I am, in a very backseat way, journeying through the last days of a 26-year-old cystic fibrosis patient’s life. His mom and I have an online, we’re-both-cf-moms-and-both-writers kind of relationship. Although I’ve never met any of them, their situation has impacted me deeply.

Both he and his family know he’s “end stage”. They’ve tended to the details that accompany this process of dying. The answering of “advanced directive” questions. The pointed inquiries about funeral and burial wishes. The tedious but necessary banking details. They gathered the family for an unforgettable day of togetherness complete with sibling and entire family pics.

And now they wait.P1050051

So many things about this situation have me exclaiming, “Wow…”

This guy is one astoundingly brave, mature, faith-filled young man.

DH remains upbeat, injecting humor into these truly life-and-death moments, repeatedly insisting that his family not be sad as his life nears the end. He’s oh so ready to trade his disease-ridden body for a heavenly one that will never tire or be ill.

He’s anxious to go home.

This family is incredibly inspiring and courageous.

They are not shaking their fists, railing against the fact that their second born child and beloved sibling will soon depart. They’ve accepted that soon this bold young man’s physical presence will no longer fill their home.

They know that this “end” is not final.

Their faith in GOD is rock-solid, and they credit HIS power and presence for sustaining them through this monumental experience. Their hope in HIM and HIS promises are stalwart. They rejoice in the promise of heaven and of spending eternity together. They long for their son and brother to be whole and pain-free.

And so they wait for GOD to take him home.

When the reality that this earthly life is simply practice for the next life—the one without end—is fully grasped, there is a profound peace and comfort that mingles with and surrounds and soothes the deep pain of loss.

Rest in peace, Mrs. B…. M the custodian…Miss S. May GOD’s peace and comfort surround your family and friends as they adjust to life without your physical presence.

And DH, may GOD continue to hold you and your family in the palm of HIS hand as you journey toward your heavenly home.

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Never Too Crazy to Read

The past four months have been the craziest of my life.

Take one couple’s residential pack-up and a move nearly 500 miles spanning three states, traveling in a small sedan with four dogs weighing a total of 130 lbs., and you have the setup.

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Image courtesy of Morguefile free photos

Yet, mentally and physically exhausted at night, I continued my habit of reading a novel for at least a half-hour or more before falling asleep. Fiction took me by the hand and led me into worlds far removed from the stress of boxes crowding every room, dozens of accounts requiring changes, and last-minute veterinarian and doctor visits. Each fictional world–even an unfamiliar one–felt more normal than the real one I lived in and gave me a short period of peace and relaxation.

I’ve always loved books, but their priority struck me when I made a note (on one of many lists) to be sure to include my Kindle in the car with essential personal items in case the moving van arrived late at the new house. It was critical that I immediately have something good to read.

When I hear someone say life’s too crazy and there’s no time to read, I smile a gentle little smile and hope one day that person will discover the truth.

During which difficult times did you find solace in a book?

Small Comforts

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I’ve lived by train tracks all my life.
To me the long stretches of metal,
speak of both home and freedom.

When I was a young child,
the familiar tsing tsing of the wheels on the rails,
would lull me to sleep,
after the incessant taunting of my classmates.

I moved to another city,
but still the tracks stood sentry outside my window.
In the chill of the early morning I would follow them to school.
I left the tracks reluctantly,
to face the highschool halls filled with uncertainty.

In university and the first years of marriage there were no tracks.
On the days that were roughest,
I would jump in my green Tercel and visit the tracks.
They comforted me.

I am going through a busy time right now,
a product of taking on too many things all at once.
(I’m sure no one else EVER does that…lol)

Sometimes I can’t sleep…

All I can do is send up a prayer for peace
(and future wisdom to be able to say no…lol).

Then I hear the wailing of the horn in the distance,
and the house shakes gently.
My eyes slide shut as the clack clack of the night train sounds outside my window.

As if I’m being rocked to sleep by something much bigger than myself.
And I know that to be true…
thank God for the small comforts he gives us!

For me, train tracks have a comforting presence in my life. It reminds me of God’s constant presence…I know, a little weird. I never said I was normal. 😉 What little (or big) thing in your life reminds you of God’s faithfulness? Share with me in the comment box. I always love to hear from you. 🙂

Karen deBlieck

Karen deBlieck