On Stepping Out
I’m discovering I have more readers than I thought. I’m told there might even be a man with leukemia reading this from Spain.
I don’t know that I’m really qualified to write this particular entry. My type of leukemia, CLL, is a slower moving form and since I am 61 I might live a full life. I am having a bone marrow extraction next year and may have other treatments, but my cancer is less threatening than most. Still I want to talk a bit about, well to be direct, death.
Death is something we are all facing, healthy and sick alike. Even though all 7 billion of us will face it, it’s still a very personal thing.
‘Stepping out’ is scary, Or, I should say it can be. And, of course, in war stricken and some Third World countries, many people die frightening and violent deaths. But I’m writing here about those of us lucky enough to die from more or less natural causes.
I’ve watched other people die (you don’t get to the age of 61 without having someone you love pass on) and I’ve noticed they shared one thing in common. Near the end each of them faced it calmly. I’m sure that during their lifetime they dealt with fear about how they were going to die, but when it happened it was a brave and even peaceful acceptance. One in particular, my father, and our family, even had surprisingly humorous moments the days before he passed.
Some of us believe in God. Some do not. And some just aren’t sure. There may actually be an afterlife. Some books even discuss evidential experiences of near-death patients. Whatever the truth is about what happens when we breathe our last, I think we don’t need to be afraid.
Fear plays a role the weeks before our demise, but from what I’ve seen, the days just before it happens come with a sort of peace, a sort of phlegmatic acceptance. That’s not to say that the few seconds or minutes when it is actually happening can’t be hard, or even frightening. But those short moments have been shored up with one’s own preparation.
As you can see, I am stumbling here. You might even say I don’t know what I’m talking about. And you might be right. But this is what I’ve noticed in those I’ve lost. I can also say that those of us left behind suffer a much harder fate; that of grieving and learning to live our lives without the one who left us. I think I’ll talk about grieving in another entry. Grief is something I know more about than I’d care to.
Anyway, if you are living with Leuk right now and he is filling you with fear, that’s normal. You have every right to be scared. Just know that death, at the end, means your suffering and pain will be gone. I believe you can find a solace in knowing that. And who knows, there just may be something amazing on the other side.
Have you ever been on a roller coaster? As you are climbing towards the top, you are apprehensive of what is to come, and when you speed down the other side you really freak out. But when you near the bottom, and you know everything is going to be alright, your fear fades. I think that’s how death works. Even though you don’t know what’s on the other side of that hill, you will discover that the Engineer who designed the ride knew what He was doing.