Thursday, December 31, 2009


You know, over the past few weeks I think I've amassed about a dozen aborted blog entries on what's going on in our lives, what with Laurie's Mom's death and all, and some of my thoughts. Every time, about halfway through, I decided I'm not sure I wanted to go into detail about what it's like to go to the Neptune Society or hospital chapels or how once occupied and familiar apartments now echo in their emptiness when you're turning in the keys to the landlord. I'm not sure it's the sort of thing I want to bring into the public square. It's been a rough few weeks for Laurie and I, and I think I've finally come to a few words I would like to put out there before the world. Tonight seems like an entirely appropriate time to say it too.

When you meet someone you don't usually think that you might one day be carrying their remains. As you visit with the people you see every day, you don't think that this may be the last time you ever see them. But now I think we should. We all should.
Recently someone who was fighting with his girlfriend asked me for advice. I told both of them that they should treat one another as if this could be the last time they see one another before the other one dies. Because you really do never know. This year, which will end in a few hours, we did just have Laurie's mother die fairly suddenly. We also had our cat Mao die suddenly. I just heard from my own Mom that the pastor we had while we were growing up, Pastor Gordon Clarke, passed away in September. He'd been pastoring in North Carolina for about 2 decades (and, I'm told, preached right up to the end.) He was also one I'd always meant to write and send a letter thanking him for having been such a positive force in my formative years. I always meant to do that but never sat down to.

If you can do something, don't wait.

You also never know when someone is going through the hardest time of their life. You never know when the person in the car next to you is on their way to pick up the remains of their mother. I've told the story before, but I really did have the experience once of saying "Hey, who died?" to a gloomy person and having them respond that one of our close friends had died in his sleep the night before. I will never use that glib phrase again.

I've been asked in the past 24 hours at least three times about my New Year's Resolutions. I don't usually do them because I feel about them the same as I feel about "saving things for a special occasion." Life is the special occasion and you're not guaranteed any more of it. If you have resolutions to make, if you see how you can be a better person, do it now. Because it's all "Lord willing." Anyway, I've been fliply answering "I want to drink more coffee and become employed." But in all honesty, I think I want to do two things. I want to keep the weight of things in mind. Not that I want to be joyless or eschew beauty or anything like that. But rather I think that there is wisdom in the house of mourning because that is the end of all flesh. In other words, I think I want to be ready to shift into consolation smoothly whenever the need arises. I think life's too short, important and serious to ever be flip. And likewise I think I would like to try to be more gentle, compassionate, kind, and giving. We are all dying, we just don't all know when. Also, we are all in this together, all of the same substance, all in the same state.
Most of all, I think I want to be diligent to not lose the lessons of this year. I wish you all the best of New Year's Eves (and the safest.) I love you all and thank you for being involved in my life.


  1. Yes, we are. All dying, that is. And yes, we are. All in this together, that is. And yes, we don't all know when. As we age, God graces us with being more aware of our own mortality. But no matter how aware, it is always a puzzle. How can this thing be? This death thing? It is so strange and inexplicable. Almost incomprehensible. Thanks be to God that death will some day be done away with. It will be over. There will someday be no more death. Thanks be to God for that.

  2. I must say being told you are not going to make it (in the ER) and spending 3 days in the ICU not really knowing what was going on, really changes your perspective on life also. I seem to have gained a strange (for me) sence of calmness. I use to cry when leaving the people I love because I might not see them again. Now I whisper "goodbye and know that I always loved you" and there is a calm knowing I'm ok if God decides it's my time. I hope they will miss me some and maybe remember some good thing I did or said or if I helped them in some way. I think the most important thing in our lives is to show our love and if we go suddenly there is no question that you were loved

  3. Amen, Dixie. (...I always loved you...from the moment I knew you anyway.)

  4. Thank you Laurie, I have loved you too from the first time we met. The tears are flowing!