a year of morning thanks
Everyman. . .and woman
Something tells me that I've been here before, but no matter. If so, I'll say it again because what matters more is life and death.
The argument for the importance of story to our minds and hearts and souls is made these days in me by the fact that the old medieval play Everyman keeps replaying, time and time again. This is the story: John Doe is visited by the grim reaper and told his time has come.
Immediately, he--which is to say us--runs frantically to friends and family in an attempt to get someone to come with. No one, of course, will because no one, of course, can. Then he tries to take along what's brought him comfort here--his memories, some remnant of his bank account; but it's all stubbornly unavailable because one moves only single-file down the road which singularly lies before him. What this John or Jane Doe learns is that no one and nothing accompanies anyone else to the grave. Death is the ultimate existential experience.
Yesterday afternoon, I wheeled the car into a parking lot and couldn't help thinking that all those cars belonged to people I knew, but people who, honestly, could give a shit--and I don't mean that negatively. For me too, typing these words right now, life goes on; but it looks, once again, as if my mother-in-law will go very, very soon--maybe today. For two long hospice years she's been on a path that's been long and hard, and no one will be happier than she is, finally, when it's over. But in every other way, for all of us--even for her family--life simply goes on, it must, while she goes on her different way alone.
For just a moment, I hated the people who owned those other cars, even though I was one of them. And then I went into the Campus Center, where I had a meeting, an important meeting. Life must go on.
She is not alone, of course--she has us; she has her husband. But, like Everyman, there's no one beside her, no one really going with.
Except the Shepherd, who's promised that there are no valleys he won't hunt for those he loves. But she's human; she has far less fear of where she's going than how she gets there.
I wasn't supposed to be here this morning, but I am. The least we can do is not abandon each other when someone we know and love walks off alone forever.
This morning I'm thankful for her life, just as I will be thankful--as she will be--for her death, her deliverance. But I'll be even more thankful if the Shepherd, like Dickenson's kindly suitor, gets her there with ease.