In Death’s Hovering

I don’t understand much about Death. In fact, I barely know his face or the smell of his breath. I’ve never experienced him close enough to feel the constant hover of his shadow, but this week he’s been nearer. A friend’s mother died suddenly; my parents lost one friend to a failed heart, and another breathed irregularly in the comfort of hospice until he quietly went home.

I am swimming, flailing, really, in overwhelming empathy, and it feels uncontrollable. And I wonder how God possibly handles the grief of the world, how He collects our tears when they are so, so many.
Here in this household we have life. In this bed I lay by warm bodies and I hear breath and I watch chest rise, fall, rise, fall. A dream-wimper. A twitching finger. Life.

One day, though, it will all be gone and it will all be quiet in the shadow for a moment, until great light takes us and we see breathing turn stagnant in lungs. We fear the day, but we think on it. Of the last moments, we think, “What will we think? What will we say and promise and do? For how long will our eyes meet and how tender will our embrace become?”

I grieve with these friends, pray over them from the Georgia border, and trust that peace spans all boundaries- especially fleshy ones. A friend said that in the face of this Death, she holds her loved ones a little bit tighter to remember the life that passes between them.

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The light of the sun beamed over Isaiah and me, and we felt the warmth on the cool, breezy day. We walked the chilled paths of grass and poked at each other with weeds. We smiled and he cooed “BALL!” and all was cherished.

We choose to pass life back and forth between us, and we make all of this living brighter and kinder, even as Death hovers, and we prepare for all of it.

We prepare for all of it by living now, our hearts and flesh joined together in embraces unending.

I don’t understand much about Death. But life’s been pretty sweet. I’m hanging onto that nectar a while longer.

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