By Tom aka Pogo
My thoughts on how we are prepared for this every day of our lives.
Why, why, why…… did it have to happen to one of my relatives?
It’s a question that has been asked a bazillion times, sometimes out loud, sometimes to ourselves and sometimes in silent prayer. And somehow, there is never an answer for this question. It is a complex mystery that will haunt people until the end of time. But here are some of my thoughts that I’d like to share with you today.
We are born into this world because two people fell in love and wanted to share this love with everyone around them. The child is born and life takes on a whole new meaning for both parents and the rest of the family, from Grandma and Grandpa to the baby. It is a joyous celebration. And now, nothing will ever be the same again.
During our lives, there are moments of joy and happiness beyond our imagination. There are also times when every emotion ever known to man will be felt by each of us. This is part of this wonderful gift from God, called life.
Remember when you were very little and how easy it was to fall asleep while being held in the arms of your Mother? Remember how much it hurt when you fell and hit your head on the coffee table as you tried to climb on the sofa for the first time? You cried the great big crocodile tears while your mother consoled you. Yes, she made it all better with her soothing touch and gentile kisses. It felt so wonderful. Ahhhhhhhhhh, yes!
How about the time you awoke on Christmas morning to find that Santa had left almost every toy you had asked him for? Remember that feeling of shear bliss?
Now, remember the sadness you felt when you looked at your goldfish floating upside down in the bowl you were supposed to clean last week, but you had forgotten. Also remember how Mom and Dad helped you bury him in the back yard and how much you cried because you felt it was your fault that Goldie died. But there was Mom with her arm around you making you feel so much better.
Although, you might not have had a “Goldie” in your life, the experience was there with another creature, I’m sure. Maybe it was mittens, spot, fido or whatever. We all have had a similar life when it comes to this. We’ve all had that feeling.
Then it happens. One of your family members comes to their final day and you feel the most absolute sickest feeling that you have ever felt. Your head is spinning like never before. Most likely it was a Grandparent that was taken from you.
God has a funny way of preparing each one of us for our final day that will make us all ready for it, like it or not. And this is what will help us in the end, going through the experience.
A few years later you hear the whispers that Aunt Anne has gone to the doctor this week. You don’t know why or the outcome, but your family shows concern through their smiles. You wonder what is going on.
Over time you notice a difference in Aunt Anne’s appearance. Her walk is weakened. Her voice is getting frail. Her smile has faded. Then you overhear your older sister claim that Aunt Anne is dying. Suddenly you are consumed with finding out why.
Then your Mom tells you. Aunt Anne was diagnosed as terminal. She has cancer. There isn’t any cure or hope for survival.
You can’t understand. You don’t know what this means. You are confused but the sadness in her voice tells you this is not good. You love Aunt Anne. You cry. Mom consoles you and you feel better. For a while, that is.
Soon after, Aunt Anne is taken to the hospital. Your family all goes to see her and for the first time, you realize what is about to happen. Aunt Anne is lying there with tubes and wires coming out of her. She tries to smile for you and you tell her you love her and want her to come home. She tells you she’ll be home soon. The rest of the family is so sad and now you know that Aunt Anne will soon leave you. You cry.
Have you ever experienced anything like this? I’m sure you have. Who was it? What were the phrases used? How were they similar? What did you do?
Now I’m going to say something here that will confuse you. Terminal Illness is not the worst thing that can happen to you. Think about that for a moment…… ponder it. Read it again. Terminal illness is not the worst thing that can happen to you!
But, a diagnosis of your terminal illness is the worst thing that can happen to your Mother and Father, your spouse and/or your children. But not you. There are much worse things that can happen to you, my friend.
You could be sitting there watching your wife or husband die, or worse, your child. Yes….. that would be much worse. I’ve lived through this, I know. It is a horrible, sickening feeling that tares your heart out, little by little as your child lies there suffering as you stand by helplessly watching and waiting. It really tests your faith.
Now compare it to this.
I thought I was going to see my Cardiologist for another routine test, but I was surprised by this. The Doctor knocked gently on the examination room door and walked in with a serious look on his face. He said, “Tom, you can put your shirt back on. We won’t need any further tests. Sit down. I’m afraid I have some terrible news for you. There is nothing more we can do for you. You are dying. You have a heart that is fading and medically there is nothing we can do. You are not a candidate for a heart transplant because of your rare blood type. You have up to six months to live, give or take a month. I suggest you get your affairs in order. I’m so very sorry for you and your family.”
As I sat there listening to his words in disbelief, the only thing I could think of was my beautiful wife and how my death would affect her. I thought about my son. I thought about my daughter. I thought about my grandchildren. I thought about my friends. I never once thought about myself. Not for one second. I am prepared to go to the Lord when he calls me, but what about Patti. How will she survive this news? My heart was breaking for my family. I was in shock. I felt horrible.
As I left the doctors office my mind went back to my younger years and all of the things I’ve mentioned earlier. I realized that God had been preparing me for this my whole life, all of the sadness and all of the happiness. But I still hadn’t figured out how I was going to break this news to my wife.
I sat in my car for what seemed like forever, trying to come up with the words I needed to say to her so she would not fall apart completely. I prayed as I started the car and drove in the direction of our home, still searching for the words to say. Please help me Lord, I whispered as I headed home.
As I turned onto our street and drove down the lane like I had done a million times before, I started feeling a sense of relief. I was home. I was once again safe.
As I pulled into my driveway I saw her golden hair blowing in the gentile breeze as she planted some more flowers around our walkway. My, she is a great looking lady. As I watched her, I wondered why I was so lucky she ended up with me. Then I saw her smile and my world lit up.
As I got out of the car, she came to greet me with her gentile kiss and held me so close. My heart was racing now, because I was so overcome with the sweet smell of her, the touch of her soft lips, and the gleam of her eyes. I was so alive and so much in love. She asked me,”how did it go at the doctor’s office?” I calmly said, “let’s go inside and I’ll tell you.”
As we walked into our living room, I tried to tell myself, she’d handle this news like a champ. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
As I told her what my doctor had said, her eyes started to well up with tears. She lost the color in her face and she stared at me like she was looking straight through me. She dropped down onto the couch in total disbelief and shook her head. “Surely you heard this wrong”, she said. “No doctor would blurt that out like that after the tests you had.” “This can’t be true. There has to be a mistake.” There was anger in her voice that I had never heard before.
I tried to calm her down, but she got worse. She was furious. I had never seen her this mad.
She headed to the door and grabbed her car keys. I asked her where she was going. She said, “I’m going over to speak with your doctor. I’m going to get to the bottom of this. This has to be a mistake. He’s got to be wrong.”
As she ran out of the house and slammed the door, I awoke. My pulse was racing as I sat up in the bed and looked at the alarm clock on the night stand. It was only a dream.
As Patti rolled over, she asked what the matter was. “Are you OK”, she asked? I assured her I was just fine and told her to go back to sleep. It was only 4:00 AM and we had another two hours before the alarm would ring and tell us to get up.
As I lay back down and put my arm around her, I was indeed very thankful it was only a bad dream. I thanked God for the awakening he gave me with this dream. My life would continue on and Patti and I would have many more days together.
But what if it wasn’t a dream? Do you think I could have handled the doctor’s words this easily? I don’t know for sure, but I hope I’m smart enough and experienced enough to handle the news like I did in my dream.
For I do whole heartedly feel that each and every day we live, God is preparing us for the day we leave this world and join him in his Kingdom.
So here are the rules I try to live by to prepare me for the end of my life.
- Wake up every morning with the best smile you can smile.
- Look into the mirror and remind myself how lucky I am to be alive.
- Live each and every day as if it is your last.
- Spread the love that is in your heart to everyone you love, every day.
- Live for today but plan for tomorrow.
- Thank the Lord often for giving you this precious time on earth.
Thanks for reading this and putting up with this vivid imagination that I have. Go and spread the love that is your heart. Enjoy this gift of life. And remember that the words,”terminal illness” are ugly nasty words unless you put them into context. Just like every other word out there.
With much love from my heart to yours,
Tom Henry, aka: pogo