Thursday, February 28, 2008

It's Times Like These I Wish I Still Believed in Heaven

It’s times like these I wish I still believed in heaven. An old man is taking what could be his last breath with a few family members there to see him through it, all whispering a different hope into his ear. I would be there if I could, and it makes me think of what I would say. It’s a question I’ve wrestled with for 6 years now, ever since I gave up on what had been fed to me since birth.
Four years ago, my first friend passed away, and in the following two days two more followed. Since then another 13 people in my life have risen, or fallen depending on how you look at it. With each one, the question grinds deeper into my mind, and becomes harder to answer, and now, as my grandfather lies in a hospice, I wonder, if death can’t be a release, or even a reward. His pain is so great, and his body so deteriorated, that only drugs and machines keep him alive. Is he alive? Are we holding him captive when a better fate awaits? Can we not just let his soul go? If there is one to let go.
My grandfather was a man of war, raised in a generation that is said to be similar to my own. He was not in the World wars, but was raised in the aftermath and it’s effect could still be seen in his stance, if he could but stand. I’ve been wondering lately, after reading “Soldier of the Great War” if a man who has lived through war as my grandfather did in Vietnam, can respect someone who hasn’t seen the face of an enemy. I have no doubt that my grandfather is proud of his children, and his grandchildren, but to him it must seem as if we have never been tested, our foundations have never been shaken. Nomater what tribulations we face, they cannot match leaving your wife for a war, knowing you may never return.
I imagine that’s what he is going through now, he is about to walk through a door that he has no idea what is on the other side, and all he knows is that if he does return he will be a changed man. He is leaving his wife and children, who will say goodbye, and just as before they will try to keep a smile on their crying faces so he will see that those he loves are left happy.
If I were there, I wouldn’t be whispering hopes into his ears, I’d be holding his hand, smiling, telling him stories, and just maybe, bringing a little bit more life into his last days.