Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The ethos of dying

My Mother-in-law faces imminent death.

As we make her comfortable in her home for her final days on earth, we seek to protect her and closet her away from pain, suffering and the many miniscule duties that she no longer needs or wants to do or can do.

She is 82 years old and is ever so ready to depart from here now. She prays for a quiet death in her own comfortable bed, just drifting off into endless sleep without rancour or torment for herself or others. She longs to be in the arms of Jesus, in the room he promised he would have prepared for her. It is unique to her temperament and talents.

I imagine her room in heaven consisting of mainly kitchen and pantry :) My Mother-in-Law was ever the cook. She cooked to "rest". It was her haven from the madness of life. The clutter of flour, pastry, vegetable and fruit, strewn across her benchtops cheered her and satisfied her soul. Cooking food that made her family, friends and others far and near happy and content soothed her and gave her hope.

She will cook in heaven! I have no doubt of it. The everlasting feast in Paradise will include the culinary skills of my beloved Mother-in-law in amongst the dishes on the table.

Who said Heaven was going to be boring with nothing to do? Whoever said that going to Heaven was the kiss of death to all things scintillating and wonderful? EVERYTHING will be beautiful and wonderful and it will all taste divine! Literally! It was how it was meant to be in the beginning. We only get a shadow of the wonders of food, perfume, colour, light, humour and joyful exuberance here now. In Heaven, everything will be a bazillion times more than it is now; a feast for the senses and no overload either :)

Heaven by its very nature will satisfy beyond all imagining. Our unique skills and gifts, even our learned skills will be made use of in heaven. It's inevitable! How can it be otherwise when here on earth now, it is in the deepest joys that you will find a person content and happy in their WORK...in what they love to do and can do well.

So my MIL waits patiently. She creeps ever forward toward the door of Death and pleads for entrance beyond its mysterious face.

What do I want for my MIL?

Peace. Rest. A soul found worthy of spending eternity with Jesus. :) (Yes! I do believe he wants us all there! Why and How I don't comprehend or understand. I just think that we have nothing to lose and everything to gain if we do). I also want that my husband - her youngest son - will be cared for as he grieves for his dearly loved Mum. It is HIM for whom I hold the deepest concerns really but that is a blog for another day :)

......It's incomprehensible isn't it? How can we really know what lies beyond death? We don't of course. Death rarely gives us answers from behind its doors. Death is both a sacrifice and a gain. It is not duality of spirit although certainly a conduit to change. Death can be a welcome thing and it can sting like a thousand pins.

Some deaths kill joy and hope. Some deaths gently ease the furrows of worry and distress. Some deaths merely needle and other deaths change life on earth forever. Each small part of death makes way to more and more LIFE in all its abundance and hope. Yet...we still fear it for we do not know.

As we resign ourselves to these last few weeks with our Mum and Mother-in-Law, we shall do our grieving in living rather than after she has left us. At least I think we will. It's hard watching someone die and it is a relief - almost - when death finally takes them home.

We will miss her though. She is currently busy passing on her favourite recipes to anyone who is interested :) Explaining the notes in her handwritten recipe books and discussing the finer points of boiling and baking custards, puddings, roasts and other delicacies. I imagine we shall not eat quite the same again until we all join her at the Eternal Banqueting Table. :)

As I write this I am wondering if I sound a little flippant and if I dishonour my Mother-in-Law with this post. I do not intend to. Death maybe a prosaic and fundamentally practical issue for me, but I do still cry at the loss of those I love. It is hard to lose those you love to unforgiving death. It totally hurts to be bereft of that life in them that you loved so well. We miss them - sometimes very acutely. For christians, we do have the small comfort that we know the separation is temporary. That can be a small comfort though not a big one; "Temporary" can be an awful lot of years without.

I love my Mother-in-Law. Deeply. She has grace, wisdom, gentleness of spirit, honour and unselfish service in every pore and every fibre of her humanity. She has laughed a lot in the years I've known her despite losing her husband and her only daughter to cruel diseases. She still laughs even now, as she battles with her own cancer.

She LOVES. It was very very rare for my MIL to not love and want to care for another person. She GAVE of herself, her time, her possessions, her produce over and over, always considering those who had less as more worthy of more. She was/is frugal, honest, truthful and abounds in Wisdom and gentleness. She is astonishing really. I expect her funeral will not be a small one when it finally comes. :)

So anyway. Enough now. Grieve not for my mum in law but for her sons. Her three sons, one of whom is my husband. They will be orphans once she leaves and that can be tough to accept too. No child imagines being without their parents!

God speed you home Marion Ruby Pitman with all my love :)


Viv said...

To be able to say "I have accomplished what I set out to do in Life, I am happy with what I have done, and I can honestly look back and say 'Look! I did it!" has to be my greatest wish in this life..

I am sure Mitch if you read what you have written aloud to your MIL you would put a very large smile on her face.. Your words are amazing..your respect for her is fantastic .. but your Love for her shows in every word you have written..

May we all be so lucky...hope I get to work in the very same kitchen as your MIL, one day.. Just not right now..

I am not finished ...yet!

EM said...

My grandfather came to me in a dream the night he died. We saw a man waving to us in the distance, waiting for him. He said it was his father. He also told me that when my own time came, he would be right there in the same place, waiting for me.

I believe him.