Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Being around death and disease in the season of light: All is not lost but so wonderfully gained

It has been my privilege to be around death three times during the season of light and joy. Also, it was in such a season that I learned three years ago that I was to die from leukemia.

The world does not stop for us. Everyone outside of our hospital rooms and bedrooms continue to rush around to meet the needs of their jobs, families and Christmas shopping lists.

It is hard not to feel quite lonely, most envious. But as caregiver, son, friend and patient, the season of hope means more to us than anyone on the outside. We no longer rush around. We no longer gaze upon shopping lists that only seem to grow. We are forced to face the moment of our mortality, and best of all, the reason for the season.

Scripture tells us that God so loved the world that He gave it His only begotten son so that whoever would believe would have eternal life.

And it is that life we cling to and celebrate amid the season of light.

I've been with some extraordinary people in the days and last moments of their lives.

"Mrs. Nutter" -- as I only called her out of deep respect -- was a woman who rose above her very humble east Tennessee beginnings to help raise the lives of children in the classroom and her own at home. Brain cancer slowly ate away at her life inside the Hospice Care facility in Nashville, which is a place of such blessing and comfort. Known to few on that busy outside, but the great Amy Grant often sneaks in to sing. And Mrs. Nutter told me that she felt she was listening to an angel. Now she does.

Ben Blumberg was a WWII fighter ace, who fought the Nazis with daring fearlessness because of the utter evil they represented to all people, including his own. I did not get to know him until the last years of his life, when he exchanged the airwars over Europe for the battles in Metro Nashville classrooms. An engineer by training for GE, he donated countless hours to keep donated computers going in the classrooms of then Metro teachers Charlene Grinder and Deborah Diaz. He never took a time, just a new sense of knowing he continued to make a huge difference in this world. Who can ask for anything more?

My father Natalio Gonzalez Chavez and I were never that close while we lived. But as he died over three weeks from cancer, we were close as could be. I cared for him as he did for me when I was an infant. I cleaned him, I fed him and I told him repeatedly that I loved him. He returned the words and affection, and in his final days his faith: "Don't cry for me, Timmy. I'm going home." You made it Dad, you made it. Well done!

And so those of us who seemingly live in darkness during the season of light to the outside world are in no such place. It is most bright and warm where we are, in anticipation of even greater reward in Heaven to come.

1 comment:

Elyssa D'Educrat said...

This gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes. On second reading, I realize that I am lucky to have read this now, before it is too late to tell you how much I admire your strength and courage. The impact of your words will breathe life long after you are gone. Elyssa Durant, Nashville, Tennessee