Saturday, July 29, 2006

Living Death

As I rode to Bangkok International Airport on July 18 (Thai time), my supervisor had me call home to let my parents know that I was on my way. My parents were not there, however, but my brother Michael was. I learned from him that the family was flying to Alabama on Thursday, so that we sons could see our Granddaddy before his passing from metasticized colon cancer. After an extremely long day thanks to a normal flight and an abnormally long flight delay (4 hours) upon returning stateside, I got back to Arizona at 4:00 a.m., on Wednesday, July 19, after having been awake since 1:00 p.m. Monday afternoon (by Mountain Time).

On Thursday, we flew to Alabama, fully aware of the possibility that Granddaddy may have already died. As we hurried to the hospice center, I prayed, not for the chance to see him again, but that God might help me to deal with what I was about to see, to not love Granddaddy's life in the face of death. When we got there, he was still alive, but he was a shell of the man I had known growing up. His eyes and cheeks were sunken into his head, and his skin hung loosely from his bones, whose outline I could see. He looked as if he could be already dead, already a cadaveour in the casket. Praise God, however, for he was coherent and we got to speak with him, to hug him, to kiss him. That was late Thursday night, July 20.

Since then, his decline has continued, with the exception of one or two days. But really, it's all a delay of the inevitable. He has metestatic cancer, he is elderly, and he is a human. That's three ways of saying, "He's going to die," at least one day. When I saw him today, he was the same as yesterday; that being totally motionless, totally speechless. His mouth hangs agape, but he is unable to swallow. His body is failing, yet he clings to what remains of his life. We were set to fly back to Arizona yesterday, but we coughed up the big bucks it takes to change our tickets, and our new flight leaves Tuesday. We chose Tuesday because it seemed certain that he would have passed before the weekend, but now it looks like he'll pass when we're not hear.

Till the minute when Granddaddy does breath his last, we face the reality of living death, the reality of mortality.

Even so, death too will die.


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