The title of this post may seem... well... near blasphemous in some respects.
Death to many of us is something to dread, something to fear, something we don't want to think about, something we do all we can to put off.
And so it's with amazement that I've followed Kobayashi Maru's chronicling of his brother's sickness, a sickness Ed succumbed to Friday morning:
My brother Ed is gone - at peace at last with God and the angels after a valiant seven-month struggle with leukemia. He waited until I got up this morning to give him his regular meds, a little after 8:30AM... a third night of fitful sleep... waiting; 'til we lifted the window shades to let in the morning light; 'til our parents arrived. My mother touched his arm and his breathing simply... stopped. Free at last. His wife and my little niece (age five) were right there at his side in his own bed at home, all of us around him, reciting prayers together. Not bad. Not bad at all.
On Wednesday at 5AM the hospice nurse told us half an hour. He beat that by more than two days. Why the extra time? Why the Energizer Bunny effect? ("still going...") Why did the finish line seem to fade back and back again with each passing hour? Why did we need to stumble on through three very dark nights?
I don't know. Here's a guess...
We each thought at various points, that we had done enough to fulfill God's purpose in this drama: said enough goodbyes, asked for and received sufficient forgiveness, expressed well enough our loves left dormant for too long. But with each hour, more of God's mystery unfolded around us: a huge tray of sausage lasagna showed up on the doorstoop, friends called, wrote, or simply prayed. Friends of friends... of friends heard about us and held us quietly in prayer - their energy felt so profoundly for its being optional: a choice to feel and salve our pain.
Those sitting vigil learned how to love one another just a little more deeply - to pause before passing judgment, to forgive a little more quickly, to ask and listen just a little more. Even as our nerves frayed and the bags under our eyes grew deeper, the rough edges seemed to rub off. God's purpose. God's plan. Goodness through hardship. Purpose through broken things.
A doctor called - not to talk about medical things, but to express human compassion and participate in this sad tale - part of which she'd lived so well with us. My niece wandered into the room and said something amazing... and then something else, and something else again. "Mommy, what color are souls?" She has learned more than she knows, borne witness to something she needed to see: beautiful as it is tragic.
I encourage all to set aside the time necessary to read each of Koba's posts about his brother (he lists them at the bottom of his post).
He and his family truly have faced death beautifully. May we all learn from their example.