this morning as I think about the illness and impending deaths of people close to me, as well as the recent deaths of others.
My only brother, whose near-miraculous heart reshaping surgery three years ago at Johns Hopkins gave him a health reprieve for a time, is now learning that his borrowed time is getting shorter, that there are few fixes short of a heart transplant, and that this solution may not come in time for him. My friend and fellow activist on the island, whose remission from breast cancer ended last winter, enters a local hospice this week. And others in frail health or grief struggle on, coping with pain and anxiety and multiple treatments: the bride in chemo, the widower of a few weeks, the survivors of an old friend whose body finally gave out.
These illnesses and deaths touch very close to home. My role and skills as a pastor help me keep some of it at arms length for awhile, because there are others to consider, tasks to perform, ceremonies to prepare, people to comfort. But the grief sneaks in anyhow, and I think of the little boy with his bright eyes and indomitable spirit, the mother intent upon giving her lesbian daughter and niece the safety of PFLAG, the bride with her bald head planning her wedding, the widower making his way back to church after a long absence, the Portland sisters bereft of mother, father, and brother in such a short time.
The enormity of life is very real right now. The great grief that humans experience because they love so deeply is very near.
But there is always joy as well. Today at 9:16 a.m. MDT marks the moment of birth of my beloved son, in whom I am well-pleased. He is 35 years old at this very moment. I call him every year at that moment and he's usually groggy so this year I decided I'd call at 9:16 PDT, out of kindness. Happy Birthday, child of my heart. You give me enough joy in life to offset the grief and I am grateful.