Sunday, April 22, 2012

Death as Winter

It's a beautiful Spring morning. Shadows and sunlight mingle on the green, sloped backyard. A partially planted garden, empty swings, fading daffodils, and a mess of sticks and uncut logs ready for a campfire. This is a good time of year to be alive. Full of potential, of freshness, of possibility, of seedlings and tree buds.

And yet for our family, like too many others, it is a season of Winter in our soul. If life is like seasons, then my Dad is somewhere past Winter solstice and... we don't know. The brain tumor has brought about a bleakness, the cancer has stirred up a flurry of uncertainty and immobility. The prognosis of death, the onset of Winter is very real in this season of Springtime.

Everyone has their own story of Winter, of Death, of a season of fading life, of a tale coming to an end. In my own story with my Dad, I'm searching, reflecting, accepting, discovering, realizing, and mourning.

I'm sad that my Dad is dying, that he has been dying while still living these past seventeen weeks. I'm sad that we didn't have more notice prior to the brain tumor and surgery - the debilitation that followed the procedure robbed us of: that final getaway, the one last family event, the beloved Christmas feast. I'm sad.

The thousand thoughts in my mind, they need to get sorted out. Conversations with family and friends has been helpful. But to write, to filter, to get the right phrase, to write out the ideas, it's needed.

How many billions of people have watched their Dad die? Nothing unique about my experience in the grand and tragic tale of humanity. Except it is for me. And with all the accumulated wisdom out there, I want to help my Dad die well loved. And when my day comes, I want to die well.

So I write in preparation, as a form of action, as a way of healing, of serving, of loving.

"A good reputation is better than a fat bank account.
Your death date tells you more than your birth date.

You learn more at a funeral than at a feast - 
After all, that's where we all end up. 
We might discover something from it.

Crying is better than laughing.
It blotches the face but it scours the heart.

Sages invest themselves in hurt and grieving.
Fools waste their lives in fun and games.

Endings are better than beginnings."

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