Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Thing about Dying Is...

Not the most uplifting topic for a Tuesday morning, I know, but my friend Katie posted this on her blog and asked people to post a comment on her site finishing that sentence. Last night as I danced with insomnia, I thought about how I might complete it, and I realized that it would make an awfully long comment, so I decided to post about it instead.

The thing about dying is...

it's not natural.

Now, I know we're always saying, "Circle of life," and "dust to dust" and "everyone has their time," and while all that is true, I believe there's still a part of us that rails against it because we know, deep in our souls, that it's not supposed to be this way. We were not created for death; death is like an ill-fitting after-market accessory. God created us to be eternal, the way He is, to dwell with Him forever in the Garden, chatting face-to face with him. But because of the Fall--that first sin, that first exertion of human will--death was, in essence, born.

I've been thinking a lot about death lately. Sounds morbid, I know, but for some reason this impending birth has caused me to reflect on the imminence of death. Two years ago this holiday season my paternal grandmother, Meama, died from liver cancer. Dan's grandmother, Gwen, is in the throes of dementia and is frail as a whisper. The 8-year-old son of a friend's friend needs a bone marrow transplant, but is so weak from his need for it that he can't get it. And when I pray every morning for our child, for his/her health, life, and relationship with God, I find myself typing with the most fervancy about his/her lifespan, and I work myself nearly into a panic thinking about what it would be like to lose our baby "before his/her time." But the truth is, as long as I'm still alive, his/her death will always be too early. I know the Bible tells us that our days are numbered, that God knows when we will all perish, but just because He knows doesn't make it any easier--in a way, it makes it worse. Can't He let me in on it, so I can either relax or be sure to make the most of every single second?

And then, because it's the Christmas season, I think about Mary, about her giving birth to a baby that she knew would be the Savior of the world, and wonder when it was she finally realized her child would have to die. Talk about the most unnatural of deaths: Perfection Incarnate--flawless, sinless--being exposed to the most imperfect of human experiences: death. How did she handle it? How would I have handled it? Only by the grace of God, I am sure. There's nothing that strong in me, to see my child every day and know that someday he would be tortured and killed in such a brutal way for a mountain of sin that he had nothing to do with.

The thing about dying is, it's not natural. How I long for the day when death will be defeated, when Christ will return and our frail human bodies replaced with the flawless ones our souls were always meant to inhabit. I pray with the fierce selfishness of a mother that the time will come before my child is faced with its inevitability.

1 comment:

Barb K said...

I loved how thoughtful your post is. I have thought a lot since Katie posed that question and until your post here, I was uncertain what I felt. I am reading a Francine Rivers novella right now about Mary and as I read, I feel the tension she holds knowing the destiny of her son, Jesus. Her other mortal children perplex and even sometimes disappoint her. But Jesus...that perfect Son of God. I am still in that space of agony having lost Laurie, but still kowing God is with me in all I do. Thanks, Alison, for what you said, for being Katie's friend.
In Him, Barb K. (Katie's mom)