Life is short and full of trouble.
That is a paraphrased Scripture, or should I say, a chopped Scripture, from one of my Biblical favorites, Job. (Job 14:1 to be exact).
Even though people are in general living longer than ever, with far more people making it to 1oo years and beyond, life still pales in comparison in terms or duration than eternity. And the minute we are born, we are born into trials, tribulation, and strife.
The very minute my baby was born, there was a multitude of people poking and prodding away. And let’s not neglect the overall experience of birth in the first place… yes, it was unpleasant for me, but honestly it had to be worse for her. She had been comfortable and cozy in the warmth of her little bubble, protected from everything, and I’m sure it was a complete jolt to her very existence to be forced out into the world. Now she has to eat, wear clothes, have diapers changed, have her skin cleaned, fingernails clipped, get shots and checkups… a total disruption. I don’t think people should discount the experience of newborns simply because they cannot verbally communicate what they are going through. With that in mind, I am able to respond tenderly to my baby’s wails. I don’t get frustrated. I know she needs something, even if it’s a cuddle as she fusses. She doesn’t know any better.
As we get older and learn–with or without difficulty–life gets even harder. The more we learn, the more we’re expected to learn, and we have to develop more sophisticated ways to store, process and receive information. That is easier for some than others. As kids we may have problems learning, deal with bullies, have fears to overcome, and then–gasp–puberty. Skin changes, sweat and body odors, hair places we never expected, breasts and menstruation for little girls, whatever it is little boys have 🙂 , and further development of knowledge and skills. Crushes and dating occur. That REALLY complicates life.
Then we get to be adults. Bills, more bills and then even more. Young adulthood is especially unnerving, which is why I happily tell people I would NEVER want to be 21 again. It was a time of complete confusion, where I assumed I knew more than I actually did. The college years were a time of increasing responsibility, an attempt to find out where and how I fit in the world, and testing personal boundaries, especially as related to consumption of alcohol (and for others, experimenting with drugs) and sex. It is the only period of time I mildly wish I could go back and do all over again (mildly because I know that I learned some valuable lessons then that I am able to pass on to other youths, which makes having gone through those tough times worthwhile).
Adulthood has its highs and lows, and I of course can’t pretend to understand how it feels to be older and/or facing the end of your life. Over the past several years I have watched my uncle’s health consistently go downhill. My Dad and a few of his sisters clamored around Uncle JW to help care for him, as he was a widower and had no children. My Dad concealed his own sickness and continued to care for Uncle JW, sometimes leaving the house huffing and puffing to go tend to his oldest brother. Everyone thought Uncle JW was in poorer health than Dad. I think Dad preferred it to be that way–he didn’t want too much attention or sympathy–but I definitely think when Dad passed away Uncle JW kept some guilt that he shouldn’t have.
Uncle JW was not the type of guy to just sit and do nothing. He enjoyed his family, so if he was going to sit anywhere, it was going to be over Gramma’s house, eating some of her delicious cooking and playing Spades. He loved traveling to Alabama to see their relatives there. He was very active in church. The last few years of his life, however, were full of trouble on top of trouble. His existence depended on dialysis multiple times a week, and particularly during this last year he was in and out of hospitals and nursing homes. Basically, his life ended awhile ago, but he did not fully depart this life until Thursday, June 30th, which was also the anniversary of my marriage to my husband.
The doctor had summoned the family a few days earlier, so I had been able to go to the hospital and talk to him, hold his hand a little, show him a picture of his newest great-niece, and tell him about Job and his faith. It was then that he had asked as to the whereabouts of his own Bible–it was perched on the windowsill. His doctor, who obviously cared a great deal for him, had said that was how he found Uncle JW’s room initially–he saw the great big black Bible open on the bed. Years before, Uncle JW had purchased a pretty expensive Bible for his doctor. The doctor was visibly emotional about what was going on. It was very refreshing to see a doctor show some humanity.
But I digress. What I saw was the weight of the trouble that Uncle JW had been going through. This once great man, big in stature as I was growing up, nicknamed Big Bull, was probably no more than 120 pounds, if even that. While I was in there, some of the machines that were sustaining his life were being removed, per his request. Fluid was building up in his body faster than the dialysis could handle, and Uncle JW said he was tired.The hospital kept oxygen and morphine going to keep him comfortable. On June 30th, at 11:15 a.m., God decided that his child had had enough and took him home, ending his trouble.
Interestingly, in the presence of several of his siblings, before he lost his ability to communicate, Uncle JW had asked them if my Dad had been there. I am sure they were confused and perhaps thought that he was lapsing into delirium. But he wasn’t. Uncle JW said that Dad had come and talked to him. This made me smile. Even in death, Dad is still comforting and encouraging. I kind of wish I knew what Dad said to Uncle JW. I am pretty sure he calmed any fears Uncle JW had of the unknown. Yes, Uncle JW was a Christian man, so he had to have known he was going to be with the Lord, but let’s be honest–none of us has died before. There is always going to be a huge fear of the unknown. Whatever Dad said must have strengthened Uncle JW. Now they are up there peaceful and whole.
So now I am strengthened. There are things I want to do and they won’t get done if I don’t get up and do them. In the next month, as I continue to heal from having my baby, I AM going to finish my manuscript and submit it to some publishers, preferably those with experience in Christian fiction. In the meantime, I am going to pick up where I left off with my Bible posting. I fell off miserably there 😦
RIH Uncle JW!