I have been to a place between life and death. The scripture in Deuteronomy 30:19 (KJ), says, I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: and that is just what I did., I choose to live.
In preparation for the chapters of my life about to unfold before me I must know the feelings of death. I must experience it for myself that I may be able to help those people who are leaving this life.
This is what happened to me:
It began with a flurry of much activity, days of preparing for the coming winter season. My husband and I had planted a very large garden and with the help of a friend and neighbor I have learned a lot about preserving the garden harvest for winter. I have enjoyed every moment of this almost daily activity, this preparation of Godís bounty for us.
In the mist of this preparation my family learned that our grandsonís Uncle Philip, only 22 years of age had been shot and killed in Afghanistan. Our hearts went out to the family and during the ceremonies that followed the return of Philipís body for burial many tears were shed. I attended the funeral service with my son, Jason, his girlfriend, Caron and our grandson, Jason. At four years of age how much could he understand of what had happened? My eyes filled with tears as we all stood at the singing of the national anthem with our hands over our hearts. As I looked down at our grandson with his hand over his heart, standing tall and still, I marveled at the sight.
Life for most people has gone on despite the loss of this familyís son who was killed as he stood between us and the enemy on foreign soil, but not mine. It was a lot to take in and process emotionally, Iím a giver, thatís one of Godís gifts to me, I feel others pain and weep , another gift, if I can ease anotherís pain I will no matter the cost to me, another gift. These are gifts God has entrusted to me, gifts I take very seriously, all in preparation for the journey ahead, the journey of death.
Before I continue with my story I must share with you a little of my life.
My background as a child was verbally abusive, continuing into the teenage years, also continuing into the work place and sadly, continuing into church. Overcoming this verbal abuse has not been an overnight or an easy task, but with Godís help and my husband Danís help, I have overcome. I have been a red cross disaster representative, worked with the emergency relief committee in my area, have worked with children, owned and ran a home-based business for ten years, I have been a Sunday school teacher, I did card ministry for several churches, I am a writer of inspirational Non-fiction, I have my own ministry website, I encourage people where ever I meet them and this is the big one, I am a survivor of a serious life-threatening illness! The doctors told me I should be dead or at best a vegetable in a nursing home someplace, that was fourteen years ago and I am neither, never have been. I am not perfect, but who is? I am also a survivor of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression, loses of many kinds, people come and go, its called life. I am alive and to look at me you would never guess what I have been through. God has been so good to me, He wants me alive.
Back to my story, all of the activity during that week took its toll on me and I shut down, no phone calls, no text messages, didnít want to see anyone or talk to anyone, I kept as much to myself as possible. Just as I was starting to come out of this period of shutting down up popped feelings of illness, I have severe neck problems, a visual disorder, headaches, abdominal distress at times, balance issues, sometimes I drop things, they just fall out of my hand, all or some related to the illness of 1996, the brain hemorrhage, flat lining in the hospital, coiling of a brain aneurysm, embolization therapy, a craniotomy, PTSD, depression and more. Still I smile and laugh, I look totally normal; I call this Godís grace.
Here I am tired, sick at heart, not feeling well at all, lying in bed, wondering how much more can a person take as I watched the day fading away into darkness. Lying there alone breathing and not breathing. Wondering if I can find the where with all to go on and continue my life. Finally after many hours my decision was made, I would continue with my life. It is my life and my decision, I choose, but what about those people who have no choice, like Philip, he was so young, too young to die. What of those who are dying with a terminal illness? Who is there for them? Well God tells me I must be there for them; I must reach out beyond myself to help them, I am excited to begin.
Everything that has happened to me in my life has been in preparation for this time and God will certainly see me through. I will draw upon every trial, every lesson, every tear, every breath, every smile, every day I have lived, I will help the terminally ill tell of who they are, to leave a written legacy for their loved ones, pieces of their lives, something tangible, a gift of love. I will do this through the photos, mementos, cards, letters, and words of a person at the end of life, this is called faithbooking and is a precious and inspiring gift.