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My grandmother is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. My eldest aunt has a new found cancer cell in her spine as of last week. Another aunt of mine has been in therapy for her cancer for the last seven years. My sister: Hypothyroidism. Me: Bipolar. One by one, disease is affecting my family members as it does the entire human race. It is an inevitable condition we all live in under the spell of the original sin. We are born in sin, live in sin and die in sin. But upon our death in Jesus, we will be raised in Him to become our destiny, God’s precious children.
The shadow of death is approaching fast and the warning is so clear that it is not even deceptive. I thought death was very deceptive. Not so. It appears very clear to me. If death is hierarchical, then next in line would be my parents very soon. Both of my parents are the oldest son and daughter among their siblings. They will, if not already, soon walk into the realm of their physical deaths, and face the exit door leading them out of this world into the next.
My maternal grandmother has been remarkably healthy. She is much older than my paternal grandmother who has AD, but her mentality is still bright and her memories are never fading. She said that she prays for the Lord to take her during her sleep every day, that He may take her before she gets ill enough to become a financial burden on her children. It appears to me that she is long ways from death, still so healthy and full of life. But even that grandma has been praying to God for the quiet death that is not burdensome on others. It is obvious that she sees the dark shadow of death creeping up on her.
But we Christians are able to look beyond death. The glory that awaits after ‘crossing the bar’ as Lord Tennyson terms, is so magnificent and empowering. We are able to endure the fear that comes from death. God’s love for us, and our love for God, cast away the fear and in the True Love, death has no room to exist. What is death, but just a mere shadow? It’s an illusion. You cannot touch it. It cannot touch you, or stain you.
I followed my sister to the grocery market in the afternoon and we stopped at the art center on the way to see their special event called “Shadow of Spring”. It’s an arts and crafts event organized by the local artists guild. They organized this sales event twice a year, and I know for most of them, this is the event they live for. They is their only opportunity to communicate to a broader audience. As I slowly passed by paintings one by one, I could feel the emotions of the artists poured into every single one of them. It’s no easy task, to create something one believes worthy enough to be hung on the museum walls. It’s a risky behavior putting one’s works out there, to be judged, to be sold, and hoping to be liked. There is always that fat chance of dislike, abandonment, and being ignored.
How many of these nameless artists suffer from depression? How many have endured the long, long winter living in the shadow of death for the hope of the Shadow of Spring? Are they able to make ends meet doing their creative works? Is being an artist alright? Isn’t being an artist a dangerous thing? Think Van Gogh.
The simple truth is, no matter what you do for a living, it is not going to be the perfect solution for your earthly life here in the shadow of death. No human being is free from that force of darkness. What we must do is, not to fear. Instead, be with the ones you love while they are here on earth. Tell them you love them, and spend time with them. Take the little ones to the playground, and grill some streak for a nice dinner and have a glass of red wine in celebration of life. Do what you love to do whether you can generate money from it or not. Just do it, because you love doing it. Isn’t that a good enough reason? Paint that picture you’ve always dreamed of. Sing that song from the bottom of your heart. Write that story if you believe it will transform a human soul. Volunteer at a hospice center, send a smile to a stranger with a dark expression on his face, listen to your friend venting her problems, give warm hugs to your grandmothers. Do it while they are here on earth.
My sister and I left the museum and headed to the grocery market. The asian market was filled with the familiar smell of our mother country, where the north is threatening a war against. My bright mood was about to crash very quickly to make its fast flight down to the dark abyss thinking about my other sister in Seoul. It seems that her side of shadow is darker than it is here. Or maybe not. After all, North Korea threatened Washington D.C. as well not long ago. We are three sisters living in and around the capitols of two different countries. The shadow of the Sisters. Our worlds seem much darker when we are missing each other beyond the separation.
So when I get home, I will do what I can. I will call her in Seoul, and tell her that I miss her. We will talk about all the things we can do together if we were together. We will plan a trip for her to visit us here. It doesn’t matter if the visit is realistic or not. The planning is half the fun, half the fantasy. It is our hope. It is the Shadow of Spring.
The long winter is past and it is finally springtime. I know the real Spring we are all waiting for will come, too. It’s just a matter of time. Till then, I will continue to write down my prayers and send up my requests to heaven in the book of prayer every time I go to the Mass. And I will hope for the best no matter what happens. I will remember that we do not live in the shadow of death but in the shadow of the approaching hope and glory.