Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Wife's Summer Journey

Last night, I slept on a stranger's air mattress in an apartment that is not mine, next to my wife while she waited for the hospital across the street to call and tell her that someone had died and their family needed her comforting presence. For the last 10 weeks, my wife has been interning as a hospital chaplain. Every few weeks she is on call during the night shift, offering anyone a listening ear or shoulder to cry on throughout the night and early morning. Since she must be able to respond quickly, the hospital provides an apartment to stay at while she waits. Last night that's where I was too, contemplating death and emotions.

Although I did not go with my wife on her summer journey our strong connection and understanding has giving me a wide window into her experiences. And I think she would tell you that what she has learned most about life this summer is that life is full of many steps, the last of which is natural and necessary. Death is natural and should be accepted not feared when the time is right. I guess too many people in our culture view death as a tragic event to be prevented at all costs. Most people who don't work at a hospital rarely, if ever, encounter deaths other than those of people they know or feel like they know (like celebrities). So most of our encounters with death are highly emotional and turbulent events. But when you see a stranger near the end of their life journey, it is easier to see that what matters most in life is quality not quantity.

One of my favorite pieces of advice comes from a Dylan Thomas poem, "Do not go gentle into that good night./ Rage, rage against the dying of the light." I think this is great advice for most of our journey on this earth. But as it is with all things, there is a time for rage and a time for peace. I think it might be best if we let life end in peace. Death is a difficult thing but we all must face it someday and I'd rather face it peacefully than full of fear and rage. It's been really hard listening to my wife struggle with the pain and suffering of others this summer, but I'm incredibly proud of her and very glad I could be near her on her journey. May all our lives end in peace.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cheese-its Star Trek Uniform

At long last the wait is over! For the past four months, everyday I have gone to the mailbox with excitement in my heart and growing anticipation each day. After all those weeks spent waiting, I was beginning to fear that my T-shirt had perhaps been sent to the wrong planet and some distant Klingon was using my T-shirt to dress his combat training practice dummy.But my fears were unfounded. Last week I finally received the beautiful Star Trek T-shirt I sent away for using a cheese-its box so long ago. I'm very impressed with the quality (I was worried that it might be cheaply manufactured) and when I put it on, I feel like a noble Starfleet officer ready to save the world. I'm sure everyone has that one piece of clothing that instantly boosts their confidence. Maybe it's a little black dress that highlights your curves in just the right way or a baseball hat you've had since highschool that's been stained with tons of memories. For me, this shirt brings out all of my best emotions and gives me the feeling that I can conquer anything. Today is a good day!

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