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Meditations for the Terminally Ill and Their Families
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“I have set before you this day life and . . . death . . . Therefore choose life”
               — Deuteronomy 30:15, 19 (RSV)

When our son was seven months old we were told he had an incurable brain tumor. Suddenly, we were thrust into an alien world of terror, fear and hopelessness. We forgot about sunshine and rainbows and entered a world of loneliness. Being with a dying child, watching death creep into our tiny son's body, we lived on the edge for so long that reality lost its sharpness. Each day the threat of death hovered over us for we never knew when it would come. In terror we cried out, WHY????????? and our words echoed into the darkness.

Sometimes I was overcome with anger. "Why God?" I asked.  Why does fear have to hang on the corner of every smile? Why couldn't we have a lifetime with our son?

Eventually, however, I couldn't live with the echoes and so I stopped asking why and began asking how. How could I survive this crisis of unbelievable magnitude?  Where was the strength to come from? How were we going to manage?

A certain calmness settled over us and we began to push back the darkness and found joy in watching our daughter tenderly stroke her brother's cheek, in baking a birthday cake (I quit worrying about how many I would get to bake), and in simply being together.

We learned to make our fears work for us by not succumbing to the horrors of what we were facing. We grasped the daily struggle for survival fully, and no matter how painful it became, we learned to live though it. We fought to be involved with our son's dying and in doing so, we found a way to survive ourselves.

The four of us went on picnics, ate at McDonald's, and shopped together as we worked at living a normal life. When we went for long walks we crammed the stroller full of emergency medical equipment in case something went wrong, and refused to let dying get in the way of living.

Our lives changed dramatically when we learned to focus on what we had, instead of on what we were losing. And when we did we learned that joy has no ending and that now is what we can hold in our hands and hearts, because now is what we have.

We thank you, Dear God, for the moments we have treasured, as well as the hours of love we have shared, and ask you to let them be enough.

—Darcie Sims

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