My friend Mimi needed a hug today. Her father died a few weeks ago after a lingering brain tumor. He was 90. He was in great pain. It was hard to see him go, and it was a relief.
A few weeks ago I read that a famous cartoonist, Scott Adams, lost his father after a very trying illness. Scott felt relieved, yet badly at the same time. He felt badly because he had to watch his father suffer. And suffer. And suffer even more, up to the bitter end.
For everyone who’s lost a loved one this way, I would like to suggest this small thought that gives me a little bit of hope. Please, don’t hold it against me, for it helps me when I think of my grandparents. When I think of my mother.
Do I wish they never felt pain? Do I wish that they could ‘go’ when they wished? Yes. But beneath it all, I’m happy to say that my heroes aren’t quitters. They know the outcome. Death is inevitable. Yet they fight. They fight though it hurts. They fight though it causes us pain to watch. They fight though it means spending lots of money. And they fight though it may be a wasted effort.
And there’s the ray of hope. Their efforts may NOT be wasted. Their fight may actually lead to something good. Their fight may help the rest of us in some way.
How? How can their slow and painful meeting with death be anything but sad?
For one, they teach us, the young, the innocent, and the living, how to live up to the very end. They teach us through example that we can fight, for every second, for every breath, for every instant of blessed existence.
For another, they give our doctors, our nurses, our soothsayers an opportunity to learn something new. Here’s a technique to try and alleviate the pain, does it work? Here’s a new drug, here’s a new massage. Each hero who dies is showing the rest of us a slightly easier way to make the transition into darkness.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, they are making their last statement as to how they live their lives. They could cry, they could quit, but on the whole our grandparents and parents are made of sterner stuff. Even if we weren’t there to watch and hold their hands, they would fight the coming of Grim Reaper as best they could. This is a statement that is made by equals – for nothing equalizes the rich and poor, the genius from average, and the evil from good – faster than crossing the threshold of life.
Please, if you know of such a hero, or someone close to a hero, let them know that their suffering is appreciated. They suffer for us. Through that suffering they make us better individuals, and perhaps even a better society. Finally, it may be that because they suffer today, our children may suffer less tomorrow.
Blessings to all.