Death in the Back of Your Mind
I've been blogging about JoAn Dillinger at patrickmead.blogspot.com but wanted to move the discussion over here since this is a family and mental health blog. JoAn's surgery began with anesthesia around 5:30AM and ended with suturing at 7:15PM. At 2PM the doctors came out and told the family that there was more cancer in JoAn than they had thought. It looked bad. They admitted that they would normally just sew a person up in her condition but they were taking into account her relatively young age, good health, and the fact that so many were praying for her... and decided to continue the surgery. After the surgery, the doctors told the family that they were amazed that they were able to get all the cancer. Aggressive chemo will need to be done and they warn that JoAn will probably only have two or three years with us... but they aren't certain on that last point. As one of the doctors said (and I heard this third hand so this isn't a quote) "I'm not sure I believed in prayer until today. Now, I think I do."
Before her surgery JoAn wrote the doctor a letter informing him that hundreds of people were praying for him and for her. She then made a point of telling him that personally. It seemed to have made a real impression on him.
I wrote recently about Tim and Nancy Milligan; especially concerning Tim's faithfulness and love for Nancy. She was taken to hospital on Sunday and told she has a new brain tumor and the family is having a hard time with that news, but they remain optimistic that God will intervene once again and give her more time with her family.
As I approach my 50th birthday this month I wrote a new will, made a new Living Will, and Power of Attorney. Morbid? I don't think so. I believe those things need to be done a long time before you think you might need them. You never know. I believe that it is good to keep death in the back of your mind. It makes the days we have that much more special. We understand that holding hands with your wife is special because there will be a last time. Even traffic jams would take on a new glow if we knew that we would never drive that way again. Every day is a celebration when we keep in mind that life is not forever.
Kami and I have talked about life and death issues since we were married 28 years ago. She knows that if I were to come down with certain cancers or diseases I would refuse treatment. I have seen too many people fight for miserable, pain filled years and then die. There are many cancers that I would fight because the chances of a good life are there, but that isn't always the case when other cancers strike.
So here is the question: knowing that we are headed toward heaven and that all of us must make that journey, how hard should we fight mortal illnesses? That is an intensely private and individual decision, to be sure. It can be affected by the desire to see grandchildren, or to see a child married, or a hundred other things.
But would you fight if the illness had a zero or near zero long-term healing rate? Why or why not? Keep your answers brief and do NOT criticize or critique the answers of others.
As for me: I have been traveling all my life. I am looking forward to being home in heaven. That is a highly attractive thought -- so much so that I have made my pledge that, should certain specific situations arise -- I would not go through miserable treatments for a few more months of life. Yet... if the same disease occured to my children when they were young or to my yet-to-be-born grandchildren I know my mind would change and I would make a different decision.
We all make the journey. How hard would you fight to delay it?