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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 161 - Readings

Last week, the Books and Such Literary Agency ran a blog post about what reading can do for an individual, in terms of stepping back from stress and, more generally, finding something of a paradigm for living.

I was well enough to leave a comment (that doesn't always happen, now). Briefly, I said that I read mainly nonfiction to keep myself going, because fictional stories generally have an arc and a resolution...and my life's become something of a disaster, with a lot of things going to be left undone.

The moderator suggested that I an finding bases for comparison in reading about people who handle adversity. It's a valid point, but in thinking about it I realized that I'm somewhere past that.

And this is what a caregiver needs to know. There is a point at which inspiration doesn't work.

In facing terminality, you do come to a place in which stories about overcoming adversity are nice, but they're kind of like hearing testimonies of healing miracles on Trinity Broadcasting...I'm glad for the folks, but it isn't me.

There are no happy endings here. I wish there were. I sometimes talk a brave game, but the fact is that this is really discouraging, and really scary.

So I read for atmosphere, for milieu, for a paradigm against which my life can make some sort of sense. Light romantic comedies (in print and on film) that I used to love grate on me now.

There's no identification with 'heroes'; I'm not one of those. There is little nobility in dealing with a situation you can't change. We're expected to make the best of it.

I read to find a place in my soul in which life makes sense.

If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links.








Thursday, May 26, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 160 - Voices {FMF}

Time for Five Minute Friday, hosted by Kate Motaung. It's a weekly timed, key-word-inspired writing challenge, and there are some great writers of faith there. Please visit...and if you're not participating, join in!

It's getting down to time to embrace the suck.

And that is not entirely a bad thing. Having a life in which every day has become a survival situation - as in, how on Earth am I going to get through this particular 'episode' - it does lend a certain perspective that is probably hard to obtain anywhere else.

But it can't be shared, except through these words, and they are only marginally effective.

The people around me have their own lives and concerns, and things that bug them kind of roll off my back. An unmown lawn, for instance...that's pretty far down the list of annoyances for me. (OK, I'm on a mesa in New Mexico, and there is no lawn, but you get my drift.)

It's my own private Alamo.

But there are voices...

"I prayed to God to heal you, and got an answer...He said No." (Gee, did you really have to tell me?)

"We've been expecting this rapid deterioration for a long time." (Well, gosh, at least you don't have to live it, eh?)

And there are plans made, of which I can never be a part.

It can be pretty discouraging. This can be a pretty lonely path (especially when you're lying o the kitchen floor, too hurt and tired to move), and those voices make it lonelier still.

The word this week is cheer, and I guess I can work it in here.

These voices bring to mind - unfairly - a verse from Siegfried Sassoon's poem 'Suicide In The Trenches" -

"You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
who cheer when soldier lads march by,
creep home and hope you'll never know
the hell where you and laughter go."

Yes, it's unfair of me to think this when others are just living their lives, and responding as best they think they can to mine. It's harsh, and cruel of me to even think this...but life has become harsh and cruel, and the only way I can survive each day is to be harder than death itself.

But there is also the good cheer of a soul reduced to the honed edge of killing steel...

There are other voices...

"You are never out of the fight." - from Lone Survivor.

"The only easy day was yesterday." - the SEAL motto

"I ain't got time to bleed." - from Predator.

"Come on, Lakotas, it's a good day to die!" - Sitting Bull

"On the third day I will rise again." - my boss, the Jewish carpenter.

Voices. All depends on who you listen to, I guess.

The musical inspiration for today's post is Russ Ballard's 'Voices' (remember the 80s?)






If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links.








Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 159 - Keeping Promises

We're linked with Messy Marriage's Wedded Wednesday. Please visit Beth for some great marriage resources!

As a caregiver, one of the most important things you can do is...keep the promises you make.

It doesn't matter if it's something small, like agreeing to prepare a special meal that your husband or wife might still be able to enjoy, or something big, like working to fulfill a last 'bucket list' milestone.

When the person you love is on a mortal timeline, a promise kept is a validation.

It says to the recipient, you're still important...what I can do to make your life easier, I will. No excuses, and no unnecessary delays.

Until you feel your days dwindling, you don't know how that feels.

We're used to promises deferred. I mean, life happens, and in the normal course of events, we understand that.

Sorry...stuff got in the way...how about next week?

I just can't swing it now...but wait 'till next year, and we'll take that trip.

That's part of marrie life, bit the situation and the expectation that it will be accepted.

But when next week may bring a further decline that makes the homemade pizza impossible to eat...or that there is likely not going to be a next year...that puts a different complexion on things.

This is not to say it'll be held against you. I think that most people, when faced with death, become pretty philosophical about disappointment. After all, the process of seeing one's body fail is a seemingly unending string of disappointment.

But why add to it?

This situation seems to call for invoking a What Would Jesus Do paradigm -

Only say yes when you mean yes.

If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links.








Sunday, May 22, 2016

Your DYing Spouse 158 - Walk Of Life

Too ill to write today, so with apologies, here's a video I hope you will enjoy.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 157 - Don't Expect That I Will Fail {FMF}

Time for Five Minute Friday, hosted by Kate Motaung. It's a weekly timed, key-word-inspired writing challenge, and there are some great writers of faith there. Please visit...and if you're not participating, join in!

The word this week is a good one...EXPECT.

Not quite sure what to say. It's hard to breathe, very hard to move, and this has gotten really, really scary. There is a new and nasty symptom, a fell harbinger, and my right lung's screwed up. This really sucks.

I don't want to be brave. There's a part of me that wants to curl up in a ball on Abba-Daddy's lap, and close my eyes until He makes the bad things go away.

It's an appealing image. Trouble is, it's not how He made me.

He made me something of a hard man; not unsympathetic, and not lacking in compassion (I hope) but relentless in the fight. I take injuries pretty well, and will happily improvise a splint rather than take a broken arm to the doctor. I've done minor surgery on myself.

Still and all, pain and fear make for some pretty high walls. But there is something in which I take comfort...the first verse of I Shall Be Released, written by Bob Dylan and best-performed by The Band (anyone old enough to remember?).

They say every man must need protection
They say every man must fall
Yet I swear I see my reflection
Some place so high above the wall
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released

I am going to scale those walls. Hardness is my strength; ferocity is my mainspring; and victory will be mine.

The victory is not over death; that comes to all. The true enemy, revealed ever more clearly, is despair astride the fell steed of hopelessness. He will not prevail.

I hear the deguello all around me now; but it's not my throat that will be cut. I will be the last man standing.

And ready for another fight. Which I expect to win.

If you're interested, here are the musical references - first, I Shall Be Released...


and next, the deguello (it';s a bugle call signaling 'no quarter'; it means 'to cut the throat')...



If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links.








Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 156 - Why Bother?

We're linked with Messy Marriage's Wedded Wednesday - please visit Beth's site for some great marriage wisdom!

As I am writing this - and I seriously thought about skipping it - things have gotten a lot worse. I wondered if they could; now I know.

The pain's ramped up past 'stupid pain', the kind that slows down your thinking, and there is another symptom (which, lucky for you, I won't describe) which is both extremely ominous and very disheartening.

And there is fatigue. My effective hours during the day have become effective moments. Otherwise, short of breath and energy, I have to rest.

So the question's begged...why continue the things I used to to, the writing, and the work on aeroplanes? As the walls close in, why bother?

There are a couple of reasons.

First, giving up is acceptance of defeat...it's surrender, and that is something I never learned. Giving up on the physical activities is a moral failure, and opens the door to a steeper decline. No matter how much it hurts - and how little I can still do - I don't think that is a wise thing to do. I'd rather face my fate with tools still in hand.

Second, it sets a bad example. We are not here, in this life, as singletons. We live in and by community, and we are required to take an active role in supporting and helping to form the future of that community. Saying what's the use, even in dire circumstance, is a step back over a line in the sand.

Behind which is another line, and another. I would prefer that I be remembered, perhaps not specifically but in the collective consciousness, as one who did not step back, so that others may be heartened to stand fast in other ways.

Third, I'd feel pretty stupid if I gave up and God, in His wisdom (and, perhaps, sense of ironic humour) sent me a healing miracle.

Fourth, keeping on with the work is a reach into the future. It anchors me in the continued life of those around me who have a more 'apparent' future that I seem to posess. I am still part of their world, if I'm looking ahead.

I need them; and they need me.

I still have something to give.

That's why I bother.

If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links.








Sunday, May 15, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 155 - Assisted Suicide Revisited

When one's terminally ill, the question of 'assisted suicide' always comes up, and a couple of years ago it received quite a lot of attention when a young woman with brain cancer, Brittany Maynard, became something of its poster girl.

She did kill herself, after going for a last walk with her husband and dogs.

At the time I wrote a post on another blog in which I disagreed violently with her course of action; and I wrote a post earlier in this series looking at the same subject. . But now, with a little thought,and a lot of experience, I feel compelled to revisit the issue.

I still think it's the wrong thing to do, but I understand it better. Lately, I've had a run of really bad days and new, ominous symptoms (which I won't describe, so count yourselves lucky), and lying semiconscious on the kitchen floor - more than once a day, let alone more than once a week, I've wondered...is this how I'm going to die?

The answer is, probably, yes.

And the pain's gone to new heights, or a new low. My walk has become amusingly crablike...kind of bent-over and scuttling sideways.

No, scutting implies speed. I'm limping, really, because putting weight on my right leg sends pain straight through the pancreas, and that can drop me.

So the operative question is, how much more can I take? How much worse can this get?

The answer is, obviously, a lot.

Faced with this, I can understand why the bleakness of the prospect can make a person yearn for it to be over. The large agonies and the small humiliations...just over.

However.

First, well, I'm a Christian, and believe that suicide is a sin. As in cardinal sin. Yes, I believe there are special circumstances that excuse it...the people who jumped from the World Trade Center Towers rather than burn to death were probably not castigated by the Almighty.

But I am not in that position. I have pain that is extreme, but the fact that I am writing this means I can still function, at least to a degree...and offing myself would simply be an emotional response...I don't wanna do this any more!

Second, it seems to be a terribly cruel burden and memory to place on one's loved ones...to see someone drink the hemlock, knowing that there is nothing now that will arrest the death. To keep talking while the responses become slower, trying to get in the last important words...I could not do that to anyone.

Third, it rather cancels God's ability to send a miracle. That miracle may not be a healing; it may merely be a clarity of understanding and purpose. But we are God's creatures, and in the end I don't think that we can take the play out of His hands (barring the World Trade Center example above, or similar things).

But having lived the last few months, and especially this last horrible day, I really can't bring myself to condemn anyone who takes this way out. I'm not in his or her shoes, and I have no insight into his or her relationship with the Almighty. There are things that can't be endured, and those are different for everyone.

All I can say now is, I hope that I can extend this compassion consistently, if I ever face dealing with someone who's backed into this fell corner, this fatal choice.

But in the end, I'll stand by the closing of my earlier post on this blog, written a long time ago...

"The terminally ill still have a lot to give, and they should not be thrown away...by society, or by themselves.

That line really says it all...I'm rather proud of it, so I'll stop here."


If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links.