I’m not talking about some science fiction story here.
Most adults have probably had some “brush with death” in their life by the time they reach their 30s, whether it’s a diagnosis–or possible diagnosis–of a life threatening illness, an accident, or whatever. Even just contemplating the death of someone we know puts us in touch with our own mortality.
There are several approaches to the idea of impending death:
- “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die” — or anything to that effect
- Making sure your loved ones know you care
- Getting very spiritual very fast
- Working hard to get something accomplished.
What few people have to deal with is the constant awareness that, not only are they mortal, but there’s a relatively high probability they could die today. And don’t tell me, “You could be hit by a bus.” I get sick of hearing that response (or words to that effect).
If a person says, “Oh, no! What if I get hit by a bus?” all the tiem, that’s generally considered being paranoid and/or phobic.
It is not paranoid and/or phobic for a Marfan, especially a post-operative Marfan with a St. Jude valve, a daily dose of Warfarin (aka Rat Poison), a brain aneurysm, and a thoracic aortic aneurysm to think, “What if I die today?” Especially when one hears of middle-aged Marfans whose aortas dissect simply from the strain of coughing.
Today, I learned of a 16 year old girl who died of Marfan syndrome on October 9. Her name was Madison Beaudroux. She told her sister, “I feel like I’m going to pass out.” She did, and those were her last words.
Every day, there’s some point where I feel like I’m going to pass out, and I often think at those moments, “What if I’m dying?”
Sometimes, I just get in so much pain that I don’t quite “pass out” or fall asleep, but I just kind of hunch over and close my eyes and stay perfectly still. I think, “What if I die like this?” or, more precisely, “If I had just died, would anyone have noticed?”
Every day, I consider each of those above options to some degree or another. Usually one or another predominates the others, depending upon my mood, circumstances, etc.
Every time I get up to do something mildly strenuous, I stop and think, “What if this is the strain that pushes me over the edge? Will this be worth it?”
What of my duties to this family God has given me? Is it better to push myself to the limits for them and die or to hold back and be there for them? Would I not be of more use to them as a saint in Heaven than as a cripple here on earth?
What of my duties to this body God has given me? Is it merely a mere “coil” to be “shuffled off”? Is it essentially a burden to be relieved from or a treasure to be protected? How to walk that line?
What of the sins I commit in thought and deed and ommission because of the strain my constant pain and fatigue put on my conscience? Are the pain and fatigue merely the devil pressuring me to sin? Will God show me mercy if I can’t get to Confession in time to once again confess the same bad habits and mindsets I fall back into over and over? What if I’m not detached enough? What if I’m just excusing myself?
Have mercy on us, and on the whole world.