My next door neighbor is dying. He’s young, and like so many people we hear about today, he’s facing terminal cancer squarely between his eyes. The knowledge of one’s own death, in my opinion, is God’s greatest act of mercy.
I have been contemplating all the deaths and pending deaths which are so currently plentiful in my life. This is a phenomena that comes and goes in stages, although the older I get, the more the stages seem to topple over one another. Most of the time, I hear of a friend of a friend that is dying, or a distant relative, or someone at my husband’s workplace. Now, however, there are many friends of friends, my own relatives and friends, and worse, children I know are dying. In fact, my other across-the-street neighbor was found dead in his home this month, of natural causes. So, I began to wonder why… why now? What is God preparing me for?
Well I cannot profess to know God’s purpose, but rather the thought of my final “make-a-wish” came to mind. I decided to go with this, in an effort to project myself into what many others around me are facing. To imagine my “make-a-wish” seemed less morbid and rather, uplifting. At the very least, I was trying to prepare and make the best of many sad situations. But before I share mine, begin by thinking of yours.
My make-a-wish, would the foundation actually grant me one, would be to hit the Catholic/Christian speakers’ circuit and to speak about, well, death! “It’s inevitable. We all will die. So why don’t we begin by living as if we are terminal?” My “talk” may begin somewhat like that. I may follow by sharing my fears and joys in the inevitable.
We will all meet God one day, provided we do not directly reject His love and mercy in the form of mortal sin. God’s incredibly merciful gift of a terminal illness allows us to know more clearly our earthly end, to prepare, to clean up, and to get ready to meet the greatest Supreme Being of all eternity, Our Heavenly Father. It tests our faith and allows us a clear-cut choice to abandon ourselves to the virtue of hope. It also gives us an opportunity to do something meaningful in our last days. It allows us to make a final contribution and bear good fruit on the True Vine, so that the Vine can flourish all the more after our pruned branch is permanently harvested into Heaven.
Death isn’t the end for us. It’s just the beginning of eternity. We face it inevitably, but we don’t think about it inevitably. If we did, we would live so much differently. We may be less careful and more truthful. We may be less negative and more positive. We would say everything we ever wanted to say to those we love, and also to those we know we should charitably admonish. Instead of putting off to tomorrow what we can do today, we would do it - today. For tomorrow never comes, and you can only live in this moment once, so live with your bags packed! Okay, you get the point…all the clichés are true!
God intended for us to accomplish all that His plan entails. We are all terminally ill. Now, if you were facing 3-12 months like my neighbor, what would your “make-a-wish be”?