How does death change your perspective?

“Now everybody’s gon’ die
but don’t everybody live, though”
– NF, O Lord

In mid 1971, a fiery red-headed 26 year old young lady found out she was pregnant with her second child. She also learned that the weird lumps she found under her arms were because of Hodgkins Lymphoma – a type cancer. She was encouraged by her doctor to immediately begin chemotherapy and radiation. This would, of course, cause a spontaneous abortion. But she would likely survive for many years, and might be able to conceive again after she recovered!

She chose not to pursue the chemo, but did allow a few sessions of targeted radiation treatment, with a lead shield around her belly to protect her unborn child.

The child was born, two months premature, in March of the following year. The mother was truly fighting for her life by that point. She began chemotherapy immediately! Her newborn child was whisked off to the NICU, she was moved to the cancer ward.

After several months into treatment, the lymphoma was in remission! She was pulling through! But she couldn’t quite get well. She caught a simple cold. The cold turned into pneumonia. Her immune system was wiped out! On December 20th of 1972, her heart failed, and she died. She was only 27 years old.

That fiery redhead is my mother. I am that second-born child. She died to give me a chance at life. How has death changed my perspective? I know no other way of living. Death is part of life – and for me it’s been that way since the beginning.

A few years before I was born, my mother had encounter that changed everything for her. She met Jesus. If not for her young but strong faith, it’s likely I would not be alive. On her grave marker are these words:

“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” – Philippians 1:21

It is the same for me. Death is just a passageway into eternal life. I’m good with that. I’m not afraid of dying. This is largely due to how I came into the world. Now, sure, I would prefer to pick the manner and timing of my death – “passing peacefully” and not some horrible manner. But death itself is not something I fear. My faith in Christ is secure. He’s got me. No matter what.

Being real, though, survivor’s guilt is real! I’ve lived with it my entire life. The self-imposed pressure to be worthy of her sacrifice has been a constant. Not that she would want that for me – I know. I’ve also lived with a whole lot of extreme gratitude for what she did for me! Every breath, every day, every sunrise, everything is grace! I also have deep-seated abandonment issues. This is a fairly new realization for me. Not that she chose to abandon me! But still, as an infant, I only knew she was not there. Our attachment styles are formed in the first few months of life – and well…my first few months were a mess, and the next several years were worse! Of course I have abandonment issues. Of course my attachment style is other than secure!

But back to the question…how does death change my perspective? Well, “change” isn’t the right word, in my case. I’d say “impact” is more appropriate. And my answer, in a word:


1 thought on “death

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