Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Courage and Faith

A Facebook friend of mine, Jeff,  died recently.  He was only 54, younger than I am, and had suffered from muscular dystrophy. Close to the end, he had only 10%  of his lung function, and was on a ventilator.

I was saddened by his passing, but I'm amazed by his courage.

A week ago Saturday,  Jeff had a party.  Twenty or so of his closest friends were there, as were his parish priest, his two adult children, and his physician and hospice nurse.  After feasting on his favorite foods, including large quantities of chocolate, Jeff gathered his friends together to watch as he received Last Rites.

At that point, the doctor administered to Jeff a dose of ativan, and, at Jeff's direction, removed his ventilator. With his children at his side and his friends offering comfort, Jeff died peacefully.

This is a beautiful story, and I know we would all like to die peacefully at home, with our families and friends at our side.  The question is, would I have the courage to make the decision Jeff made? Would I step forward in faith, have the ventilator removed, and trust God to bring me home?

The very thought of this makes me hyperventilate. I'm really fond of breathing, to the point that I can't watch movies about deep-sea diving (I had to leave during The Abyss). I am, in fact, not a fan of pain, or even of discomfort.  My idea of hardship makes me embarrassed, and would make you laugh. 

Of course, not having been in Jeff's position, I can't begin to imagine what life must have been like on the ventilator. I have no doubt he made the right choice, and that he was welcomed into the open arms of God.  I have no doubt that we are all  welcomed into God's arms, no matter how fearful we have been of death. That's my trust and hope.

But that ol' yellow streak up my back is about a foot wide.

Rest in peace, dear Jeff, brother in Christ. And pray hard for faith and courage for the rest of us.


Step-parent's Cove said...

What a moving story.

EHC said...

I knew Jeff well. What a remarkable person he was, an example and an inspiration. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.