Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Dying Man Was A Lying Man

Below are two posts I wrote in October when some dear friends sought our counsel. I removed the posts without much explanation at the time. I'm not going to explain much now, because I want to nap instead.

However I will fill in details shortly and actually it will dovetail into the oft promised second half of my Leviticus to Lego post. Suffice it to say....our friends were decieved, we were deceived...and the person who perhaps suffered the most...was Amy, for doing what we vowed to for our friends, look out for them.

Accountability...I fear it may be nearing extinction.

More explanation later...I don't see any reason to conceal anything, after the players went on the Dr. Phil Show.

The Dying Man

"Let us be silent that we may hear the whisper of God." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I met a dying man today.

In fact, he told me he thought he might die tonight.

He might.

He's doubt about that, he's resigned himself to it and has decided not to go to extreme measures to prolong his existence, although he's not going to "rush" things either.

I don't blame him for accepting his fate. He has a disease for which there is no "cure" and he has been wasting away for some time.

He's also a doctor.

He's a very young man. His life is being cut short. However during his life he has been quite blessed and he will leave a legacy of two children...both very, very young. Unfortunately the woman who bore those children apparently will not be able to raise them when he dies, nor is that his wish, something about which he's rather adamant.

I don't know all the circumstances so I am not certain how that will play out.

I didn't know this man existed until last night when Amy was contacted by a couple of our dear friends who told us about him, and how they have been caring for him for some time in their home.

These friends have gone through some enormously unwieldy and heart wrenching struggles in recent years and they have stood by us through some of our worst we're pretty familiar with each others strengths and failings. I'll admit when I heard they had taken on the responsibility of this man's care, and then that his wish is for them to become the guardians of his children I worried. I worried that this might be far too much for our friends to bear.

I met a dying man today.

I met him in the home of those dear friends, and I was stunned by many things besides this young man's clarity of his desires. I was stunned at how our friends had "changed" since we last were really in any meaningful contact. Rather than burdened by the care of a man dying in their home, rather than being weighed down by the memories of their very real struggles of the past...they were aglow.

In all honesty, in all the time I've known them - and those haven't always been dark times - I don't think I've ever felt more confident about their physical and mental health. Everyone in their family looked great - except for one dog who looked like he might burst from being fed too many table scraps, but I was told the dog had even actually lost weight recently.

The family was relating to each other, communicating well and lovingly, helping each other. One young man, the teenage boyfriend of one this couple's daughters - a strapping lad - was at this dying man's side at all times to make sure he didn't fall. At one point he literally swept him up in his arms and carried him up to his room while this "dying man" laughingly referred to the teen as his "elevator."

Amy and I were there for a couple of reasons I think - at least initially. To provide what counsel we could and to direct this couple to several people whose counsel we value and which they may need in the days, weeks and possibly years ahead. I think our friends also hoped we could gently provide some spiritual comfort. all honesty, I think our friends asked us to drop by to look in on them and make certain they hadn't all gone stark raving mad.

I'll admit with the information I was armed with before we arrived , I deeply feared that might be a distinct possibility.

I met a dying man today.

He was obviously very weak and fighting constant pain.

However I also met a man whose impact on our friends, their children and everyone in their household was undeniably profound. There was nothing weak or frail about his was unmistakably extraordinary.

Amy's empathetic heart took over for much of our "short" time there, but I was able to talk one on one with our friends about some possible concerns and hopefully give them some guidance or at least point them toward people whose guidance we trust.

Amy and I were also able to speak to this dying man a little about spiritual matters and Amy didn't waste time in making certain that he understood and believed in God's salvation...and then assuring him that he would receive it. I got the impression he has spoken a lot about this lately with our friends, as one might expect given his situation.

Still, as we were leaving - and by this time we were hugging - he asked me again, "I really am going to go to Heaven right?"

I hugged him a little harder - not too much he's fairly fragile - and told him not to worry about such matters. I then whispered in his ear, " God loves you, and that's all you need to remember now."

I met a dying man today and I am fully convinced he will go to Heaven.

I met a dying man today...

I'm only wondering if I met one of God's true miracle working angels too.

*This was originally posted on Oct 7th - It was removed a few weeks later due to circumstances which presumably will be outlined if I ever re-post it.

Gripping The Reigns Of Mortality

Death became familiar to me early in life, it wasn't my was simply how things played out.

I'm now realizing that although I may be well acquainted with death - dying, or rather the process of dying - has not been on my life's dance card. I have been with people at the moment they died, and I have hugged too many people over the years knowing full well that due to their health it would likely be our last hug. However until this week, I haven't really spent much time with someone who is both cogent and whose impending death is apparently certain.

I don't know when the young man our friends have taken into their home to care for will die, but Amy and I have been spending as much time as possible with that family to help him and them prepare. It's allowed me to examine this inevitable phase of life's journey more intimately.

I'm not taking notes or anything, but you can't help but try to seek discernment in such least I can't.

I met this man less than a week ago and my mind has been reeling almost constantly since that time trying to digest what he is going through as I bear witness to his personal confrontation with mortality.

This shroud of death looms over his thoughts constantly, but he's still alive. He's lived a vibrant productive life but he is haunted about the realities and uncertainties of death.
He is tortured at times by the inevitability of it all and by what must be the exasperating knowledge that spending any time worrying about how much time he has is a waste of precious time.

Take away all the pain and other physical issues, that enigma alone seems overwhelming. How can you not spend your time thinking about dying, when you know you're dying?

It must be agonizing.

He is a proud man, who has achieved far more than most in his lifetime...but now he is trying to come to grips with his achievements as he stares into the bleak reality that those accomplishments, his careers, and the possessions he obtained along the way will be of no use to him soon, most are of no use to him now.

He will often go out of his way to demonstrate both his mental and physical prowess. He'll challenge me with questions about everything from anatomy to spirituality. Being skilled in the martial arts and despite his weakened condition, he'll often want to demonstrate methods of self protection - I don't do the physical stuff, he may be dying but I know my skill set and I'm confident God's plan for me in his life is not to be his last knock out punch victim.

He challenges himself like that quite often though, certainly every day I have spent with him. I'll admit, I believe I misunderstood why at first...

There are still a lot of things he has to deal with if he wants to die in peace and so much of his time when he has the energy is focused on those tasks. Yesterday was one of those days, and in the early evening he was tired, lying on a couch and talking. It was then he mentioned in passing his fear of flying. He said he always had to take medication before getting on an airplane "because I know on a plane I'm not in control."

That's when I believe I understood things better.

He often wants to engage me or Amy in mental challenges, or show someone else a martial arts move, because these are abilities he has always been able to control and in which he has excelled. These things, more than possessions and degrees, are what he believes help define him.

In a sense he's saying, "You may not see it as easily now, but this is the man I am."

The phrase is trite, but I have been spending my time not so much with a man who is dying, but with a man who is "clinging to life."

Amidst the almost ever present tsunami of doubt, fear and pain that is engulfing him, he steadies himself with that which is familiar...the strengths of his life.

It wasn't long after he mentioned his fear of flying that we spent time in prayer. It was a long day for both of us, emotionally and physically...and I knew he was exhausted. I prayed that God would ease his fears and pain and I asked that God help remind him of His unconditional love by simply allowing him to see the people caring for him, in their true light.

Moments later he jumped up acting like he had been refreshed by a good night's sleep.

It was good to see.

I'm not sure how long that burst of energy lasted, I needed to go home and sleep.

I have more to learn about this season of dying, and I'm praying I'll have more time with this young man as he endures it.

Yet even as he clings to life, I know I can not cling to any illusions.

I pray to you, O Lord, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation
- Psalm 69:13

THIS WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED ON OCT 12 - It was removed due the a change in circumstance.