I just had dinner with a close friend whose mother is in her final days of life. Which reminded me of the same sort of waiting our family endured just five years ago. It was August 26, 2008 that my Dad, Joe Knipper, lost his battle with brain cancer. Like my friend, it was a day that we knew was fast approaching. So our family stayed by his bedside in a round-the-clock vigil.During my Dad’s illness I kept a public journal on his CaringBridge site. Truth be told, it is still online – as I find it helpful every so often to meander through the pages and photos. Today was one of those days. And my eyes fell on the posting that had to do with this waiting that we all, at some point in our lives, are faced with. And it was a posting of a letter Dad’s wife received from my good friend, former family pastor and author, Fr. Bill Bausch. Bill knew that Dad’s time was short and that his time with us was drawing to an end. And here is what Bill wrote:
In our old Litany of the Saints – alas, seldom heard or chanted anymore – there is this perceptive cry: “From a sudden and unprovided death, deliver us, O Lord.” It’s a wonderful plead that for many, sadly, is not always answered. Tragedy, war, murder, accident, stroke, all can come like a thief in the night floating on a long distance telephone call.
While witnessing a Loved One’s slow ceding into death and new life is painful, still, it’s an answered incantation. There is a chance, denied to many, to say I love you many times over, a chance to gather family and friends, a chance to recall old memories and make new ones, a chance to repair and forgive, to put thing and values in order.
Life is always and everywhere a gift, a gift freely given and should be freely given back. I suggest, during these Advent-type days of awaiting Joe’s rebirth, to pray the prayer, “Lord God, I thank you for the gift of Joe’s life. I now offer it back, thirty, sixty, hundredfold."
It’s time for that prayer, Marge, and, I assure you, it is magnified countless times over in the prayers of those who love you and Joe.
Beautiful words. When the time comes for that prayer in your life or that of someone you know - may it bring some comfort.
Life - always and everywhere a gift that is freely given...and freely given back...Amen