The Texas Bohemian

Word artist. Jack of all Trades.

The Agony of Not Knowing…

The doc pretty much confirmed what I had surmised already.  Mom’s digestive system is not going to function.  In all likelihood the cancer that took her kidney has enveloped part of her intestine.  Point of view and treatment options switched today from trying for improvement to getting her comfortable and planning for extended care for as long as she lives.

When my dad died I can’t say how mad I got at God.  In these situations some of the strongest Christians sometimes start a sentence in their mind, “what kind of God would…..”

Speaking to my brother this morning he said he didn’t understand the reason she was suffering.  “There has to be a reason.”  His agony is one of trying to understand the “working of God.”  My mother, too, asked why she had to suffer.

Christians are steeped in the belief that things happen “for a reason.”  Though few really accept the full micromanage concept every Christian I’ve ever known believes in some kind of “purpose” or whatever.  I, too, used to think that way.  How troubling and confusing to try to understand an infinite God with a finite mind.

Why do Christians torture themselves so?  Is it a result of the convoluted notions of God buried in doctrine, the result of combining Jewish scripture and the story of Jesus?  Is it just a deep desire to believe God is “in control?”  Is it merely fear that what they’ve always believed in might be wrong?

In my case it was all of the above and then some.

My brother said, “what is the purpose?  There is a purpose.”

I told him of course there was.  Mom was suffering because she’s 86 and has cancer.  It’s just biology.  A little later mom asked the same question, why does she have to hurt?  I told her, as I told my brother, when we get older our bodies quit working like they should.  They get screwed up.  Maybe it’s not the most comforting answer but at least it’s not “because God wants you to suffer so he can teach someone a lesson” or some other nonsense.

When we’re born we are dying.  It is the nature of the flesh, of humanity, of everything on this earth.  We’re impermanent fixtures on an impermanent planet in an impermanent universe.  No amount of rationalizing or spiritualizing is going to change those facts.  Where we came from (our sentience/soul/mind) and where we’re going does not change the truth that we’re just biological beings.

When my dad’s health deteriorated my heart grew heavy.  He was my best friend, my confidant, the guy who was always there not to meet needs but to be a friend.  In some ways I’ve never gotten over loosing him though it’s been ten years.  The day I lost him was one of those turning points when I really started to question.

Today I sit next to my mom, just recently blasted with a dose of high-power pain meds and still squirming and uncomfortable, knowing she has a few weeks, a few months, and then the end.  I am sad, of course.  I love my mom.  There are a million things she will miss.  She’ll never see my finished dayroom, most likely, nor sit beside me enjoying the fire in dad’s old wood stove in that room.  We’ll miss her.  We’ll cry.  But I can far more easily accept this loss and deal with it than I could dad.  Now I understand better.

Whatever the spiritual dimension might involve, how ever we might be connected, this life on earth is a physical one.  We live, we love, we laugh, we cry, we die.  It is how things are.  There is no “purpose” beyond that.  I do not blame God nor question my faith.

I tell my children that dying is a natural part of living.  We all will die.  They have moments of sadness, those fleeting thoughts of being without me or their mom.  I had those when I was a kid, too.  They bubble up more in a time like this.  It is important that they, too, learn the process.  They should not place blame anywhere.  There is nothing and no one to blame.  Things are.  Life is.  There are reasons but recognizing reasons is not placing blame.  We don’t blame the sky for being blue or chlorophyll for making plants green.  Why place blame for any other biological process?

My brother, sisters, family members who remain steadfast (or shaky) Christians will seek answers.  They will suffer in their not knowing.  I, however, will rejoice in knowing.  My mom has been around for many years.  She has not always known the best for us but has always loved us with that great maternal love that has no end.

For the remainder of her days my duty is to be here, have love and compassion, be the son she needs me to be.  At the end, when we say goodbye, my siblings might be asking why.  I won’t.  I’ll just say thank you for all your love, mom.  And I’ll say thank you to the Creator that we as humans are able to see beyond our mere biology and recognize the unique nature of our lives and in that how we are able to give to each other as mom has given all these years.  What more could we ever ask for or expect?


November 3, 2008 - Posted by | Blather | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Ted – I am in a huge hurry and haven’t had a chance to catch up here – but know that this grabbed my attention today and is heavy on my heart for you. More later – but sending my love my friend.

    Comment by justjuls | November 4, 2008

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