Sunday, April 22, 2012

Facing Death With Grace

I have a good friend who suffers from a chronic health condition for which he receives treatments that mitigate the symptoms. He faces very real limitations in his daily life as a result of his illness. I had a brother-in-law who died about three-and-a-half years ago from brain cancer. I also just finished reading Roger Ebert's memoir, entitled Life Itself, part of which reflects upon his life-altering illness.

What do these three have in common? Each of them, amidst consider suffering, have shown great fortitude and grace. I am fascinated and inspired by the strength of character they found within themselves to cope with their illnesses without self-pity or a sense of cosmic injustice, while at the same time, quite truthfully, I am sometimes haunted by the question of how I would/will react if and when I am put to the test.

From their examples I derive a sense of awe at what human beings are capable of, as well as the hint of a transcendent truth about our natures. Unfortunately, our world today pays scant attention to those subtle intimations, but I suspect they are everywhere if we care to really look.

My reflections were prompted by a touching story of a woman named Jackie Smith, who is facing a fairly imminent death. Her story is available in today's edition of The Star.

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