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For those of us whose main daily focus is on how we should best live our lives, hearing talk of how best to die may sound very strange, that is until cancer enters our lives. This life changing event can cause many to question "why me?" or to wonder what is going to happen to them as they wish for an orderly closure to their lives. Without one's faith, family and the support of close friends, this closure can become a very trying personal journey. When a bible study acquaintance of mine was abruptly informed of his own immenent death [advanced pancreatic cancer], Everett's first reaction was to thoughts of wanting to fullfill a personal bucket short list before passing. His second thought, in facing three to six months life expectency, was to spend his time in dying as he had through out his life, ministering to others. He chose the latter.
As a church Elder with lengthy service, Everett had visited and conforted many a dying soul, but never while being one himself. Under his new circumstance, he continued to minister to the terminally ill, re-affirming their belief and confidence in our Lord jesus, but now also sharing his new situation with them. Before, he had tended only to see them as friends who were passing on. Now he would engage them into mutual discussions of hopes, fears, joys and regrets and it became apparent that in sharing circumstance they were stronger together. The general mood of these folks and their families went from one of doubtfull expectants to one of enjoying the moment, feeling valued and looking forward to the next day, if given one. As Everett's personal situation caused his energy to wane more quickly, he also wrote an an essay about what he had learned about living through blending his own dying experience with that of others. This was the testimony he wanted leave as somewhat of a guide for others of like mind.
In retrospect, instead of chosing to fullfill a personal bucket list of worldly endevors, Everett had given what was left of himself to a single endevor. Aside from the most important effort to reassure the promise of the love and provisions of Christ to his special cancer companions, he had also given them personal value daily. In return, their love and appreciation for his conversations had given this dying man the affirmation that his decision to "live his remaining days by loving others as yourself" had been the far better choice.
A retired NE Iowan who loves all of God's creatures, including mosquitoes.
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