Monday, November 1, 2010

Dying Well

So after a brief hiatus, I'm kind of picking up where I left off. It's All Saints Day. In addition to having "For All the Saints" running through my head, I've been thinking about the cloud of witnesses that surrounds us. Really, more like one person in particular.

My grandmother taught me how to die. Now, she taught me many other things through her words and example. But she truly showed me what it means to die well.

Nanny, as all the grandkids called her, was in excellent health until the last few years of her life. These were very painful as she suffered severe osteoporosis and a host of other issues. Yet, as attested by her family and friends, she never complained. She always fought to regain her strength and be there for us, even as she experienced strenuous medical issues. After recovering from multiple falls, gall stones, and pancreatitis, she earned the nickname Energizer Bunny.

In her final months, she told us several times that she longed to go Home. She was ready to be with Jesus. But even still, she fought to live to the fullest in every moment she was given.

A few days before she died, my uncles were in her hospital room discussing sports. Nanny was fading, often in and out of consciousness and lucidness at that point. Yet she was well aware of one thing. "The Rangers lost. Lauren won't be happy." For a couple years, the majority of my summer nights were spent with Mom and Nanny, hanging out at her apartment, watching the Rangers, talking about anything and everything, and helping Nanny with her evening routine.

Tonight, the Rangers lost game five of the World Series, and I can't say I'm happy. But there are so many bigger things in life, matters of life and death, matters of eternity. Nanny lived out what it meant to trust God, even when life was living hell. She had a confident faith and a gracious strength. She never quit fighting, even to her very last days. On her 88th birthday, her whole family gathered in her hospital room. She told each one of us that she loved us and was proud of us. Two days later, God took her Home, and I'm sure she heard the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

May I strive for that, as she did, every day of my life, and may I live and die well, to the glory of God.

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

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