This post is not what you think it’s going to be.
While there has (and will be) plenty of fodder for those who disagree with and/or mock certain religious sects and/or warn against false prophets and scheisters, there really is a greater message that kept popping up through out this whole (non) event.
Many times, from people of many different faiths (or lack thereof) I read the following statement.
“We should all treat every day as if it was our last on this earth”
Regardless of one’s faith and belief in the afterlife (or lack thereof) those words ring true.
Time and time again, I have seen people taken from this life unexpectedly, traumatically and with regrets. As a paramedic, I saw people panic and fight the inevitable, only to lose their battle for life in a way that I would not wish on anyone.
It is not always sudden.
The last words spoken to me by my own mother when I (rather forcefully and emotionally) indicated that she needed to follow post surgical instructions and take care of herself were angry, “I’M THE ADULT, You don’t get to tell me what to do!”. After those words, she took the phone off the hook, barred the doors and windows, refused to answer the pleas of her best friends and neighbors (and the police who were called for welfare checks) through the doors and windows and screamed “GO AWAY! LEAVE ME ALONE”. Legally, no one, not even the police could force entry under these circumstances.
Just as I predicted, just as I told her would happen if she did not at least try to do something, anything to improve her health (not in her psychological makeup to do so, then or ever), she died alone, in her home. I will spare you the details relayed to me by the medical examiner, but they will haunt me for the rest of my life.
While this event (and the life and events leading up to it) were traumatic and will take a lifetime to work through, I do have to give her credit for dying on her own terms, in her own home.
Thank goodness, it does not always end that way.
During my 13 years as a paramedic, I saw a lot of people die. The fact is, if it’s someone’s time, if the injury (and illnesses cause injury to the heart, brain and cells) is too great, even the best and most swift medical intervention can not stop the inevitable.
I have watched a lot of people die.
When someone is ready to die, to move on, to be released from pain and is at peace, it is a truly beautiful thing to watch, and this may sound weird, but I consider myself blessed to have been there for these moments.
Today, one of my very best friends from high school was there when her best friend, father of her children and husband was released from these earthly bonds after a courageous battle with cancer.
I have been privileged over the last year and a half not only to witness this courageous battle, but to experience the love, faith, laughter, tears and finally acceptance of the inevitable.
Even from across the country, I knew that if not today, it could be tomorrow or the day after.
When today’s email came, I did not need to read it to know why it was sent.
This journey was truly amazing, not for the medical treatments and remissions, but for the love and faith Craig and his family displayed even though the most challenging of times.
While he fought the good fight, he and his family also prepared themselves for the end of that battle.
They lived every moment as if it was their last.
While he still had the strength, the family reinforced connections and made memories.
When he could no longer do so, they made sure he had friends visit and call and constantly, they made arrangements to be with him 24/7 and let him know how loved he was.
My amazing friend Nina, almost daily, shared her joy, her sorrow, her fears, her courage and her vulnerability with her friends and loved ones. I’m pretty sure she never slept.
In his last moments on this earth, Craig was surrounded by loved ones (friends, family and pets) in a peaceful place with a beautiful view.
Sometimes we look at other beliefs with skepticism at best.
I can say that the honest, giving, loving, non-judgmental way in which Craig and Nina lived their lives is as “Christ like” as I have ever seen.
I honestly don’t know if there is a heaven or not.
Even though we are of different faiths, I thoroughly believe that if there is one, that Craig is there and he will be joined by Nina and the rest of his family.
I love this photo of their family. What makes it even better is my friend Nina’s statement, “The irony of this photo is that Craig isn’t exactly a fan of the dog.”
For those who are interested in the physical and spiritual journey, Craig’s Caring Bridge website is available here
My heart breaks for the loss my dear friend suffered today.
But there is also joy for the life they lived together and knowing that his last moments here are the best that anyone could ever hope for.