Bryan went to his Uncle's funeral today. I've just seen part of a programme on TV where an elderly man strokes his wife's hand as the doctors tell him that there's nothing they can do. This afternoon I was reading an anecdote from Tony Campolo where a couple love each other so much that they both want the other to die first. I've been thinking about death quite a bit recently. My little piece of peace the other morning was in a graveyard.
I'm not a morbid person. Yes, I worry about death, but more about the people I love who don't know you, Lord; I worry about their death. Mine, I suppose I worry that it might hurt. That it might be lingering, painful, undignified. Or that I might be a burden to those that love me. But I don't worry about dying, because then I'll see you. I'll get to be with you because I am your child. I will sit at your feet for eternity and sing to you and I won't sing out of tune and I won't have to read music or try to remember the words.
I've been thinking about death more in terms of the fragility of life, I think. How short it is. How it's all we have and we value it above everything and yet in your terms it's over in an instant. 'Just the cover and the title page,' CS Lewis described our earthly life. The rest of the Story takes place after that.
I want to make sure that I live my life before I die. I don't mean swim with dolphins or see the Taj Mahal or whatever, I mean I don't waste it. I don't want to waste my life living only for weekends, or waiting until the children grow up and become less frustrating. So many days of my life I find myself thinking, ''It'll be easier when...' or 'I'll be happy when...' and that day never comes.
I'll be OK when this hurdle is over. When that essay is handed in. When I get my exams. When I get married. When this injury heals. When I get pregnant. When the children are self sufficient and I have more time. When Bryan gets home. When this, when that.
The day never comes. Or when it does, there's another 'When...'. How do I live in the present more? I often wish that my life had a 'rewind' button, or a 'fast forward button. Occasionally a 'pause'. Even once or twice a 'stop/eject' but rarely do I seem to want to press 'play'. I'm either worrying about the future or longing for the past, or hanging onto a moment. My autocue seems faulty.
My headmaster at school used to stand on the stage at assembly and exhort us not to let the years slip between our fingers, 'The passage of time, girls and boys...' he would say, and we'd mimic him as we walked to the next class. 'The passage of time!' I know what he meant, now. Those days were thirty years ago. Thirty! He's now retired, his two deputy heads are dead. Sometimes it hits me that if the last thirty years have gone in a flash, so will the next thirty, or sixty.
This is cheerful isn't it?
I can't live my life any faster, or any slower. I can't make it pause just because I want longer to process something or I've temporarily had enough and need a break. I can't do anything very much because I am not in control. I am sitting on a conveyor belt just being carried along at a pre-ordained pace and all I can do is make sure that I don't waste the ride. It'll stop before I know it.
I just find that hard, Lord. I am full of worries. I want my children to grow up and I want them to stay just as they are because they are perfect in all their imperfections. I want to learn and yet I am so bad at listening. I want to know you but quite often my eyes are looking down, not up.
That poor man on the telly is losing the wife that he loves. He has tears in his eyes. She is unconscious. His face is lined and blemished and his eyebrows are bushy and his brow furrowed. His eyes are pale and full of tears. His mouth is trembling. I wonder if he said what he wanted to say before she had her stroke. I wonder if he took it for granted that she knew he loved her. Maybe she did. Maybe they both wanted to be the survivor just so that the other would not have to bear the grief.
I don't know what I'm trying to say. I so often don't. As I lie in bed tonight it will probably occur to me, but right now I feel for that man and it seems important to tell people that I love that I love them. I want my loved ones to know you because there will be a day when it's too late. I want to live each day as you want me to live it because I don't know what you have down for me - whether my final breath will be this very night or in another fifty years, or somewhere in between. I don't know that, so I need to make sure that... that... I don't know.
Today all day I've felt uneasy. There's been more bad news today and, worryingly, an absence of any news about a friend of mine who is seriously ill. I'd hoped to hear that her surgery went well and she was stable. No news is just no news, though, I guess.
I'm tired. Things look worse when I'm tired, don't they. The sun'll come out tomorrow, as the song goes. Lord, help me to wake up tomorrow with a sense of purpose and a new energy to face the next thing in this never ending heap of rubbish that I'm wading through. Help me to hand over the worries to you and not hoard them as if they were treasure. Help me not to be weighed down by all the things but to care about people without stumbling beneath the burden of it all.
Lord Jesus, be with Bryan's family as they grieve his Uncle. Heal those who are ill and suffering now. Give surgeons skill. Those who need divine help to get their life on track, may they find the help they need in you, the Lord of Compassion, the Healer, the Comforter. May the people I love who haven't found you yet please, please open their eyes.
Please be with Katy and I as we go for yet another dressing change tomorrow. Be with Bryan as he goes back to London when he'd rather be with us. Be with Elizabeth as she wobbles her first wobbly tooth and worries so much about when/how/if it'll fall out. Lord she is so like me in the way she frets about things. That's not a legacy I want for her.
Show me what you want me to do, Lord. Show me the next step. Give me an appreciation of time and your plan for my life. I don't want to waste it. Help me to ride my little conveyor belt with confidence instead of desperately running to stand still and missing so much.
A Good Night's Sleep wouldn't go amiss either.