Singer-songwriter Iris DeMent, now the wife of one of my all time favorite singer-songwriters, Greg Brown, has a wonderful song with the chorus "No one knows for certain, and it's all the same to me, so I choose to let the mystery be."
I've been thinking about The Mystery a lot lately. Not that it's anything I've been drawn to by my own maturity, or my own chains of thought. Face it, I've been forced to confront death now like I've never known before. First with dogs, now with my mom, who may now have just days. She is in the hospice unit of the hospital now. I'm going there tomorrow.
I'm surprising myself with my attitude. It is not one of panic, of fear, of anger, of anything extreme. Actually, my dad, whom I talked with briefly on the phone today, summed it up best: "It is what it is." (I told you he's one of the most intelligent people I've ever known.)
I'm ready to accept this. I'm not praying for any lifesaving miracles, or anything that might prolong her stay here on this earth. I'm ready for her to leave this long-suffering life of hers, for whatever lies beyond there for her. I'm sure it can't be any worse.
I don't know what lies beyond. I can't know for a fact that as long as she has proclaimed Jesus Chrits as her personal Savior, that it will make any difference. I don't know that any personal beliefs will make a difference. I don't need any pretty pictures of Heaven and gospel songs about meeting Jesus and all of the family who's gone before, to assuage my fear of the great unknown. I just know that she's a beautiful woman who has suffered a lot. God have mercy on her.
Maybe it is, after all, just nothingness. I can't comprehend nothingness, so I don't know what to say about it. But maybe, just maybe, all of the miracles I witness here daily in the natural world, all of the miracles that I too often take for granted, are just a glimpse of what lies ahead. Maybe a world full of these miracles, without all of the suffering, is in store. And that is nothing to fear.
This unknowingness is what keeps us alive. We strive to stay alive because we do not know what is ahead. Some take their own lives because, unfortunately, life here on Earth does not seem to be a better alternative than the unknown. I'll side with the here and now. I love my life here with my husband and kids. I love the beauty the world has to offer every day. I think I saw a wolf today, in the road. Maybe it was a coyote, I didn't stop to look at the tracks it left, but for now I'll believe it was a wolf. But I did definitely see a bald eagle soaring over Sand Creek.
I'm afraid what I fear most is the human way of dealing with all of this. I just want everyone to know and accept the great peace, the peace that has somehow made its way into my consciousness.
update: my mom passed away late last night. I got the call from my brother at 5 am Friday. I was not there at the end, but I guess it really doesn't matter. Thank God her suffering is over.