Monday, August 25, 2008

A tribute to a brother beloved

BLOGGING CAN WAIT. I haven't blogged in a few days, which is a bit unusual for me. We've had a death of a beloved man in our church family. When something like that occurs, everything else takes a back seat. Walking with a hurting family and our church family through this grief to this point has been consuming, but a great privilege.

DETERMINATION PERSONIFIED. Mike struggled valiantly to overcome the impacts of a recurrent brain tumor. He underwent high-risk surgery last November and had a lengthy recovery. Mike vacillated between setbacks and progress ever since. It seemed like three steps forward, two steps back--but there was real progress. Mike worked hard in cooperation with every therapy possible. He had managed to become relatively mobile, able to attend church and school and social events. His determination was depicted as he had a home-based medical assistant help stabilize him on a walker while he used a weed-eater to trim his yard.

BEWILDERING OUTCOME. But a sudden seizure last week left him unresponsive and he, for whom many have prayed for healing, died the next day. It was a disappointment to us, particularly because Mike had made such an investment of effort to recover, to become well again. All of us who knew him and visited with him can appreciate his and his family's investment toward a healing outcome. So, when all that seemed to evaporate in a moment, it was bewildering. We knew Mike was fragile and that a life-threatening seizure could occur again, but we were leaning hopefully, prayerfully in a different direction. His last and fatal setback caught us off-guard.

EACH DAY AS A GIFT. At the same time, I think most of us have been able to readily accept Mike's reversal and passing with a measure of grace and understanding. He let us know that he saw everything that he was able to do after last year's seizure and diagnosis of a recurrent brain tumor as a gift. Instead of foregoing brain surgery, he took the risk for the sake of hope. When his post-op condition left him unable to swallow, he accepted the tough implications even as he cooperated to beat the odds. And Mike set goals. He wanted to be in church on Easter. He was there. He wanted to see his youngest daughter graduate from high school. He was there as she got her diploma in May. To Mike, these were gifts he in his fragile condition appreciated.

SEIZE THE DAY. We are confident that Mike "fought a good fight, he finished the course, he kept the faith." The many tributes to him at Monday's funeral service reflected a life shaped by faith and service. As we come to terms with Mike's passing, we grapple with the fragility of life and the precious and perhaps few opportunities we may have to express our love and focus our faith. Make the most of today's opportunities. "Today is the day of salvation." Seize the moment. Let grace flow.

TAKES YOUR BREATH AWAY. My friend Dean has a quote at the end of all his e-mails. It goes something like this: "Life is measured not by the number of breaths you take, but the number of moments that take your breath away." I think Mike lived the last year of his life this side of heaven in breath-taking moments--taking in special encounters that represented life, love, grace, and peace to him. And that's something to be grateful for.

I welcome your comments and/or questions in the spirit of dialog. Share yours by clicking on "comments" just below. They're moderated only to reduce incivility. Shalom!

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