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.

Trust Him.

As some of you may know, my views on the existence of God are somewhat nebulous. I can get a bit negative, especially when I struggle with tragedy (see my “Kay” post).

But there is another side of my coin.

Back in 2009 I read a book called Miracles by Olen R. Brown. I later wrote a review of the book on Blogger News Network.

Unlike many modern scientists, Dr. Brown sees no conflict in faith and science. He believes that miracles are the glue that bind the two together. In fact, he finds miracles in every scientific discovery. He is uniquely qualified to speak on this subject; he is both a scientist and a Christian.

Dr. Brown is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and a retired professor at the University of Missouri. He has held joint professorships including in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology of the School of Medicine and in the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center of the Graduate School. He has authored more than 100 scientific publications and is a life science consultant.

I’ve recently looked at his book again. It is hard to argue against his insistence that if you don’t have faith in a Creator then you must have faith in chance. And through detailed descriptions of everything from the oxygen molecule to the integrated interplay of cells, he shows how pure chance is an impossibly no matter how much time you give it.

I still waffle, but this book definitely challenges one to reconsider his stand on the existence of God.

I highly recommend the read. You can find his book at Amazon.com.

I normally only write posts on weekdays and take the weekends off, but I thought I’d make an exception today.

Yesterday’s post was a bit of a downer. I get a little bummed out when I hear of such things happening to young children like Kay. Like the subtitle of my blog says …”mostly upbeat and sometimes downbeat…”.

I want this blog to be as honest as possible and yesterday was no exception. But I hope I didn’t bring anyone down who might be depending on Him right now.

Maybe my disclaimer (see link above) should apply here as well. Don’t let my struggles have an effect on your relationship with God.

I’m not apologizing for yesterday’s post. It’s an honest statement of where I’m at. I just want to be sure those of you trusting in God, as I did most of my life, won’t let my last post shake you.

Your beliefs are probably right anyway. I’m just not there right now.

kay

I came across Kay’s Leukemia Blog yesterday that a family had been keeping about their little girl’s progress. There was one last post. Kay, their beautiful 9 year-old daughter died from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).

She first contracted it when she was 22 months old.

I’m 61 years old and have CLL – a much milder form of leukemia.

So why her? Why a child who had so many years ahead of her? And why ALL?

My Leuk has many brothers a lot meaner than him.  “Acute” versions are so deadly. So threatening.

Why must his more aggressive brothers attack children? Where’s the sense in it?

Why does God allow such a thing. Or maybe the real question should be is there a God at all?

Are we just dust in the wind, our lives blown away by an unknowing, unthinking gale?

So why this little girl? The standard answer is that God has his plan and we can’t always understand it. He is so Omnipotent, so All-knowing, that we must believe He knows what He is doing. There are things we can’t possibly understand so we must have faith in Him.

Or are we just letting Him off the hook with all that? Do we dare ask why, and in doing so lose our faith, our beliefs? It is said that living without God is like a ship without a rudder; we are blown by the wind with no ability to steer against it.

Maybe there never was a rudder. Maybe the wind is blowing us haphazardly and we just keep trimming the sails thinking He is guiding us; when all the while only the wind determines our course.

Where is He in all this? Where was He for little Kay?

Here’s a rough draft. It needs work but I thought I’d post it anyway:

He smiled as he waited
For his last breath
Frail, but calm
Not afraid of death

Tell me, Dad, why is it
You smile that way?
You seem so at peace
On this your last day

It’s not my last day, son
It never will be
He once made me a promise
And He’s kept it for me

A day will come
When you lie on this bed
So I’ll tell you that promise
And you’ll have nothing to dread

You’ve got a Carpenter
and He’s drawn up the plans
And built your mansion
With the nails from His hands

You’ve got a Carpenter
No need to cry anymore
Because your Carpenter
Hung your new name on the door

We’ve got a Carpenter

 

copyright 2012 Jim Smith