Tuesday, January 31, 2017

On death

I've been meaning to write here more often, particulary this year. I've been meaning to do a lot of things. I'll have meant to have done a lot of things when I'm dead....I'm not sure that's avoidable. I've been thinking about death a lot. It's been kind of everywhere lately, it seems. This is evidence more of my advancing age than an actual increase of dying in the world, but nonetheless (or perhaps even more so) it is unsettling.

Professor John Scott Walker died yesterday. His birthday is one day and 17 years before mine. I met him when I was 17. His funeral is on my son's 17th birthday. He died 25 days before the anniversary of Janessa Moore's death, which is also the 3rd anniversary of Xenia's death. His funeral is one month before Xenia's birthday. The beginning of the years are getting hard for me.

My inclination when sad or in pain is to eat. I'd love to say it was to write or hug my children or pray, but honestly, it's to eat an entire pound each of polska keilbasa sausage and cheese and follow those with a whole cake, while watching something on Netflix. Those other, better things are there too, but it's hard to write and hug with each hand full of food, and impossible to pray while the tv is on. There is a reason fasting is good for the soul. Lent is coming...it always starts in February or March. It will always be there right as I am wanting to immerse myself in food and oblivion. That is a good thing.

Yesterday morning, before I knew about Professor Walker, I wrote in my journal that death felt so close at the moment. Not imminent, just there. Real. I talked about that a bit. I finished with, "Lord, keep my death ever before my face, teach me to give up those things that make me fear death, and teach me to behave toward others as if each interaction may be my last. It sounds exhausting, so give me strength, Lord." I add to that now: teach me to behave toward others as if each interaction may be THEIR last.

I knew Professor Walker was dying. Everyone did. Quadriplegics just don't live very long, and he'd been getting sicker for a while. And yet. And yet. Death really doesn't wait till anyone is ready, does it?

Prayer in Preparation for Death, from Prayers in time of sickness, suffering, dying and death, found here:

O Lord, look upon me, Your creature, and the work of Your hands.
Take away my fear, and send Your angel to comfort me with the strength of Your presence, even as You were comforted in Your agony.
I commend everyone I love to Your providence and care, knowing that You will do more for them than I could ever desire.
O Lord, You know my sins; have mercy on me, and in Your wealth of love and compassion for mankind, let heaven be opened to me.
May I see the angels rejoicing over me, an unworthy sinner, as I am received into Your Kingdom.
I am not worthy of Your love for me, but I trust that You will not abandon me to the eternal death of hell.
By the prayers of Mary, Your Mother, and of all the saints, may I be counted among those who behold the light of Your face.
May I offer You the praise and worship which are my eternal life and joy.
For You are my life and my resurrection, and Your arms will receive me in love, O Jesus, and I glorify You, with Your Father, Who is without beginning, and Your most holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever unto ages of ages. Amen.

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