Even after dementia had pretty much scrambled her faculties, my mother always said: “As long as I’m still here, God has something for me to do.” This may be one of the most important gifts she ever gave me. At first I didn’t understand, then I started watching her. It wasn’t a conscious kind of purpose, like going to work or fixing dinner, but for as long as she was with us her presence was teaching us something, even if it was learning to love and care for someone who was leaving us bit by bit, or how to love each other through the pain of her leaving.
I am so blessed. I am, 65 years old, and I’m starting out on a brand new adventure. I have friends around me who are battling cancer and friends who have defeated it, friends who are facing the death of a loved one, friends who are facing the loss of jobs and the changing of career paths, friends who are finding the fulfillment of jobs and careers they love, friends who are facing the sadness of divorce and the uncertainty of a future without a life-partner, friends who are facing the challenges of aging and the specter of grieving, friends who are facing the consequences of poor financial decisions, friends who have embraced retirement and the excitement of travel or spending more time with family, friends who are seeking, and friends who have given up.
I just finished a really excellent book, destined for my all-time favorites list. Through a veil of tears, I have read the ending at least a dozen times.
From “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman
“Death is a strange thing. People live their whole lives as if it does not exist, and yet it’s often one of the great motivations for living. Some of us, in time, become so conscious of it that we live harder, more obstinately, with more fury. Some need its constant presence to even be aware of its antithesis. Others become so preoccupied with it that they go into the waiting room long before it has announced its arrival. We fear it, yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves. For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.
* * *
And time is a curious thing. Most of us only live for the time that lies right ahead of us. A few days, weeks, years. One of the most painful moments in a person’s life probably comes with the insight that an age has been reached when there is more to look back on than ahead. And when time no longer lies ahead of one, other things have to be lived for. Memories, perhaps. Afternoons in the sun with someone’s hand clutched in one’s own. The fragrance of flower beds in fresh bloom. Sundays in a café. Grandchildren, perhaps. One finds a way of living for the sake of someone else’s future.
* * *
Love is a strange thing. It takes you by surprise.
* * *
Life is a curious thing.”
No matter our age, we are in the middle of our creation. No matter where we are in life, we are not cooked yet. God has not finished with us. There is always something more to learn, to experience, to do. As Shannon and I venture forth to explore God’s creation I am increasingly aware of my unfinished condition, of the possibilities for the rest of my time here, of the uncertainty of our future, and of the excitement of facing the unknown with the awareness that God has great plans for us. As long as we’re still here, God has something for us to do.