How do you watch someone you love fade into a shadow of their former self? Is there a way to let them slip away without taking your heart along? I think not. At least I haven’t found a way as of yet. Honestly, if there was a way to protect my heart I don’t know that I would choose to take it, because it would mean that I had to harden myself. I prefer a tender heart, even though it means pain is inevitable. It is the slow deterioration that causes the person I know to all but disappear, which is the most difficult. Confusion confines. Fog frustrates. Unawareness usurps. The glint in the eyes is gone. The jovial laughter has vanished. The gregarious has turned introvert.
Brain function is tricky. Complicated. I wish it were more simple, but the brain is what makes us human with all the complexities we possess. One part controls a whole host of roles, which overlap and each affects the other…like a chain reaction. When connections are missed, the result is change…in personality, ability, emotions, physical function, roles, and relationships. Despite these changes, love remains true. It threatens to crush in its painful piercing of the heart, but it holds on. Not knowing the end, not even knowing tomorrow, it clings to us as close as our breath, mingling our memories with our tears. A sweet and excruciating wound of the heart, which proves that we are made in the image of God, who is love.
We will all die one day. It’s no secret. We pray it will be quick, painless, and in our sleep. Those of us who have tasted what a slow death from disease would be like, pray a little harder. Scripture says that we know not the day or the hour of the Lord’s return…I have always thought of that in regards to the rapture, or the end of time. Honestly, now I see it differently. I believe he comes for us at the hour of our death, to usher us home…but we know not the day or the hour. The slow approach of death is ruthless. It steals and destroys. Painful to sit and watch.
Our hope? To live each day as if it was our last. To love those in our lives. To say what needs to be said. To fully embrace the days we have been given. To allow the pain of love to move us to compassion. To know that ALL IS GRACE.