Sunday, September 17, 2006

planning to die

It seems like I got phone calls all weekend. Well, it was my birthday on Sunday so a few of those were for that reason. I got a call on the day not for that reason. I was supposed to take an elderly friend of mine to a bookstore where I have artwork on display, and I had not yet gotten back to her to plan a time. She called to let me know she had gotten there to see the work and was asking questions about it. Jeanne is my biggest fan and most probing critic. So we discussed the work for some time and another opportunity to see new portraits I had done.

There was another issue concerning artwork that she needed to discuss with me. She laid groundwork regarding her failing health very thoroughly for me. Jeanne has a condition of the heart and lungs that is permanent. She's in her eighties and so that is not unusual nor unexpected. But she's also a very vivacious person, and not prone to wheelchairs or rockers unless it is absolutely necessary, if necessary is ever a word in her vocabulary. But I think she was trying to tell me in the most practical way that it now is. She wanted me to have a very special piece of her art collection. In fact she wanted me to be on call to receive this piece should she go into the hospital, perhaps knowing she might never make it out. I told her my only concern was to follow her wishes. I love the piece of work and would hang it in my house permanently, not because it is worth thousands, but because it reminds me of her, and our relationship. So talking about her death was not horrifying. In fact, it seemed perfectly natural, and the offer one that was totally consistent with her nature and our friendship.

It did strike me as odd for moment, being in my house full of activity, in the thick of life and passing another year, that someone was on the phone preparing me for their death. I like that Jeanne is approaching her death as she has always approached her life-head on and ready to meet whatever may come with full acceptance. Lots of challenges are coming my way, some by my choice due to God's leading in my life, and some not by choice, but unavoidable. I'm not afraid, just poised and waiting for the first strike. Passing through death's door should be like that. It's part and parcel of being human, and not the worst tragedy that could befall a human. It's not a tragedy at all if life is viewed as an eternal passage with physical death only one phase. It is simply what will come, either now or later, but it will come. The question is, how will we meet it? How we live will determine how we die.


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