I almost forgot. Justin has expressed a desire to speak to the Bridge Community soon. He wants to communicate his gratitude to you all for all of your prayers and love and support. Even from a distance geographically, you've poured out your hearts for a family that you didn't know, and embodied a love that they've felt. His family models that love in everything they do, but I know it has been comforting to know that a community of faith shares their burden and has had their family on the forefront of their thoughts. Even in the simple way you've expressed care virtually--though only a small group of our community share life in this medium--your words of kindness have been felt and read. Justin frequents this space from time to time, and though he visits anonymously, he communicates to me what it's meant to him in times of darkness.
I'm looking forward to it, as I know you all will be. And I continue to look forward to the time when he will consider our community his, and share both in shaping us and being shaped.
Saturday night, Justin's mother passed away. I've been trying to say that for the past three days, but everytime I sit down to write, nothing comes out. I've erased the lines that I've written a dozen times, and I'm not sure how to share this, or what is appropriate. I know that I have a responsibility to tell her story--not just that of her courage and selflessness through the dying process--but of her life as well. It will take me a lifetime to unravel the lessons she taught and the way she lived, and it will take me 10 to understand the quality and strength of her love, and those that have developed the same ability to exude love by following in her footsteps.
Wasn't it just three or four weeks ago that she was serving me homebought storemade cookies? Asking her husband Mark to get us wine and salad and some kind of tuna-casserole-pasta thing that someone had brought over to the house? She couldn't eat more than a half banana a day at the time, and here she was serving us. But that was always her story: her strength never came from her body; if it had, she'd have given up long ago. It was, in fact, her strength that gave life to her body. Hers is the story of the triumph of human will over flesh; the story of human will in its finest, most selfless form... Carol outlived literally every projection of time she was given. The first time she was diagnosed, the relapse, when things got really bad in April, and then when she was given 72 hours to live 10 days before she passed.
The last few days were horrific, and her family never looked away. Justin administered medicine to her every four hours throughout the night most of last week, and watched the entire dying process. He saw some things that I don't think anyone should ever have to see--let alone to see your mother go through that much suffering. Most of the details I'll leave out, or I'll allow him to share with you. But the more I wrestle with her strength and will to fight, the more I am entranced by her final moments.
The hospice nurse came in to Justin and his sister and father on Saturday evening, and explained to them that it might be a good idea for them to leave her in her room--that it might be hard for her to let go of life if she can sense--even at a subconscious level--that they were still near. Amazing. It was something they already felt was important to do, so Justin and Arian complied. He gave me a call and we talked about it. We talked about how he felt, how the family was surviving, how much his mother had been suffering, and the family's unanimous desire for closure. We talked about our prayers for her, and how we were praying that God would call to her and allow her to disengage from her life here. How we prayed that God would release her from suffering and that she would hear the melodies of heaven being sung, and join in them. I heard once that people in those moments have been found singing with a melody unbeknownst to onlookers. We both prayed that the beauty and love that awaits her would wrap around her with a warm embrace, and that the breath of God would fill her lungs with a new song. We hung up, knowing the next time we talked, it would be "the call". 30 minutes later, Carol entered her rest.
I walked outside and cried out. I sat down on the sidewalk and heaved and sobbed loudly and talked with God and even smiled a bit. It's interesting, one of the first emotions I had to wrestle through was the frustration of the injustice of it all. Two weeks ago, I was with Justin and a couple mutual friends, and that's exactly what we talked about. Everyone seemed to have distinctly different views on justice in these situations, and I just sat and absorbed the conversation like a sponge. It's still somewhere inside me, waiting to be wrung out. But as I wrestled through the polar emotions of pain and relief, I found myself having to make peace with my understanding of justice. And I didn't find that peace in anything I could articulate; I just found peace. It was weird, and I've had to go back there a few times in the last few days, as the grieving continues. It's as though I've found peace in my trust that God grieves in my pain. That he feels the same lump in his throat; that he feels the frustrations of the helpless, and the emptiness of the lonely. "Why her and why now and why in the hell did it have to be like that"--I don't know. But I believe it hurts him too, I believe that he'll give us the strength to endure, and I believe that his knowledge of the eternal relationship of creation and its creator is greater than my limited understanding of life and death and the pain inbetween. And I have to believe that his benevolence and love and generosity has no end. So I trust.
Early Sunday morning, as I sat outside on my porch, I thought of this email I got from Bruderhof:
The question of why evil exists is the same as why there is imperfection, or, in other words, why there is creation at all. We must take it for granted that it could not be otherwise: that creation must be imperfect and gradual. The real question we ought to ask is this: Is such imperfection the final truth; is evil absolute and ultimate? The river has its boundaries, its banks, but is a river all banks? Or are the banks the only important aspect of the river? Do not these obstructions themselves give the water an onward motion?
Been a busy day. Finished on apppointment, and I'm off to two more--the last of which to grab coffee in the Paseo Nuevo outdoor mall with a client. It's one of my favorite places this time of year. The city decks it out for Christmas, and puts up an enormous tree in the center. It's beautiful. Wish I had more time to go sit in front of it with a large cup of joe and just be.
Anyways, I gotta run. Sidenote: can anyone figure out what's going on with my sidebar image that keeps creeping over at the top? I can't place the issue...
Sitting on Justin's couch, watching Scarface
. It's been such a full weekend so far, and it's only Friday. So much pain, so much.
For those of you that have been following Justin's story, and continuing to lift him and his family up in your prayers, please continue. He understands that so many are constantly crying out on his behalf, and thanks you all.
Thursday, Justin spoke with hospice, and they gave his mom 72 hours. She's currently conscious for an hour or two a day, and becoming less responsive as each day passes. According to everything we know, it won't be long.
I can't describe what the last 48 hours have been. I feel surrounded by so much pain--between Justin's family and some issues very present in my own extended family. But the time has been so formational for me. I could just stay in these moments forever--and I want to. I feel no desire to rejoin life as it continues in its various trivialities. I've been privilidged to be surrounded by so many amazing people in this time. I'm privileged not just to be surrounded by people of such strength and love in vulnerability, but by people so capable of sharing truth. I could unpack the conversations I've had in the last 24 hours alone for probably the rest of my life. Duality, forgiveness, love, loyalty, faith, fidelity, truth, and homing beacons.
Ahhh, I don't know. I just know I have responsibility to learn all I can and to share it. But for now, just pray. Continue to cry out for God's strength for his family, that God would increase their faith and give them courage and hope for a future they cannot see. Pray that he would surround them with love, and people to give love to.
A human being is a part of the whole that we call the universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest--a kind of optical illusion of his consciousness. This illusion is a prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for only the few people nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living beings and all of nature.
I've still got some work left, but the site's coming back together after being sideswiped by blogger. I'm not sure what's going on within, but for those faithful few who remain with web-based publishing through this original blog-engine, be advised. Keep a current copy of your template saved to your desktop somewhere. I was in the middle of moving my moblog 5 minutes ago and it erased my template again. Fortunately, I'd learned my lesson and saved a copy. This bug usually kicks in while republishing your blog.
Well, it's a busy one today. Just wrapped up an appointment in Marina Del Rey, and now I just wanted to jump online at Starbucks to tout my new moBlogging ability. Flickr
is great--design and attitude reminds me a lot of early Google
The whole cell phone to blogger camera and posting ability is terrific. what a technosexual.
I know my site was unexpectedly hijacked last week in a freak gasoline fight accident, but I'm working on it. I expect to spend some significant time over the next few days adding back my links, and adding a few features. If anyone knows how to get ahold of a automatically updating tag board, or even just an ad-free one, that'd be great. I'd also love to figure out how to show the latest song playing in my itunes...
I think blogger officially sunk my blogship. I can't see any posts or even view my blog, and the template is suddenly empty. That's right, hours of template hacks have been completely and utterly erased. (muttering short little words)
All I did was add one link to my drop down list, and it erased my entire template. Thanks Ryan
. See if I ever try to do something nice for you
again. Well, now I've got to get back to work and see what sort of time I can scrounge up to rebuild this thing. Ahhhh, the benefits of going web-based...
This is a test post from my new cell phone....