“I Am Content” by Lynn Durham
They say that people die as they live. Such was the case in my father’s life and death. Both were gentle, peaceful, dignified and with grace. He had a rough last two years, open heart surgery, diagnosis of diabetes and then prostate cancer that was found already metastasized to his bones.
I remember when he had a section of back removed and replaced with metal rods because of the growth of the tumor and the severe pain and prognosis of paralysis and incontinence. He then valiantly attempted to regain all his pre-op activities. He was 6’4″ and around 220 pounds most of his life. He began his decline in the spring needing a walker, then using a chair to get around, then sitting up, then resting in bed. He weighed less than 100 pounds while he was still able to stand and lost even more. It is painful to watch someone so well loved prepare to leave you behind. I believe in miracles so prayer for a cure is where my energy went. But there are all kinds of miracles.
He was wise to the end, even when his physical strength did not serve him to sit up. I remember my niece going to the funeral of a family member of one of her high school friends. Grandpa told her how proud he was of her, that it was important when someone is sorrowing to go to them and share in their sorrow. He also told her if she knew someone who was celebrating to go to them and share their joy.
Even not eating and in constant pain he was always “fantastic.” I can still see his face light up when a couple came and shared the news that they were expecting a baby. Days before he died, he was genuinely so “glad to hear.”
Shortly before he died he said some words that we had to ask him to repeat, it was barely audible through lack of strength. I put my ear close to his lips and heard “I am content.” My cousin was there and explained that it is the title of a Lutheran hymn (Dad was Lutheran, I am Catholic). We later used that hymn at the funeral.
But as I have reconsidered those events, I don’t believe it had anything to do with that hymn. He had shared with us that the two most important things in life were your faith and your family. He was strong in his faith. He had told my mother she was a wonderful wife and they had had wonderful children. He had told us that he loved us. I feel it was an attesting to the all rightness of all, as Julian of Norwich had said,
“All will be well,
And all will be well,
And all manner of things will be well.”
I believe in the anonymous quote I saw: “Death is not putting out the light, it is extinguishing the candle because the dawn has come.” And it gives me peace.
In your life, what thoughts do you hold onto? It is easy to have faith when everything seems right in your world. When the crisis or challenges come along, it is then more obviously the journey of your soul. That is the time to go deeper, praying for spiritual knowledge.
I too am content.
Lynn Durham, RN, author of From Frazzled to Fantastic! You’re One Thought Away From Feeling Better, and Dancing Gracefully With Life, speaker, well being coach. www.lynndurham.com