I’m sitting here on this lazyboy in my grandma’s apartment watching her breath while she sleeps on the couch. The television is playing dvd’s she’s created over the years with pictures of all that’s important to her- her family. Hymns and songs of worship that help her feel God’s pleasure fill the room. They’re songs she selected for the family memories she had put together.
A deep gasp. A long pause. I watch. No chest rise. I keep watching. She gasps again for precious air to fill the alveoli that will exchange toxic gases with the perfect combination of air her cells need to keep her heart pumping. I don’t know how long she has left. Maybe Jesus will take her home tonight. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe next month. But I watch because I know she’s dying. I know she doesn’t have many more breaths to take into her 83 year old lungs. The cancer cells are fulfilling the curse against her body. I watch because I don’t want her to be alone while she walks through this dark valley.
The death of the body is a soul-shaking thing. We avoid it, fight against it, try to ignore it. Eventually we come face to face with death’s power and we cannot win. We fight and we strive to live as alive as we can live for as long as we can because we weren’t meant to die. We were meant to live.
In this life, death and beauty, death and song, death and laughter, death and affection, death and healing dwell together. Like enemies that agree to a truce for a time, death and all the evidences that we were meant to live and flourish, co-exsist.
In the same body where cells are invading the place where precious memories of smiles and birth and hugs and laughter and song were, there are lung cells doing their job to bring one more breath of life to the blood coursing through her veins. In the same room where her body lays weakened by cancer two dozen red roses bring joy to the dimming eyes. Life seems to be loosing the fight, but song and flower whisper the longing, “There must be more.”
One day there will be life for my grandma that’s not mixed with death. From here death seems to be winning. But once it thinks it’s done it’s deed a breath of life never to die will fill her glorified lungs and death will have died forever for her.
There are lots of good and beautiful things in this life. But mixed in between is the rotten stench of death. One day it will not be.
One Man faced death for my grandma and because her hope is in him, when she exhales her last toxic breath of death’s work here, she’ll inhale a breath of life where her Redeemer stands ready to welcome her into everlasting life.
‘Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” ‘ John 11:25-26