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like you were dyingThe human body is both strong and fragile.

My husband was really sick last week and I was scared.  He is a tough guy and it takes a lot to slow him down.  But he experienced a serious infection in the knee he recently had operated on and it knocked him flat.  Couldn’t get up off the couch for 4 or 5 days flat.  As I watched the process play out…the high fever and extreme fatigue as his body fought the infection, the eventual diagnosis of the culprit and the slow recovery as the antibiotics kicked in…I marveled once again at how miraculous, yet fragile our bodies are.  How perfectly designed they are to fight against germs and disease, yet how many things can go wrong.

As I get older, I am often surprised by the new diseases and disorders about which I seem to be hearing.  My mom has also been experiencing health issues and her doctors are struggling to figure out what is wrong and how to fix it.  It turns out, medicine is not an exact science and many times the process begins with educated guesses. In spite of the uncertainty involved, I am grateful to live in the time where we have medical care readily available.  And reminded of how important it is that everyone has access to that care.

I lay awake for a long time last night, restless and uneasy.  I know so many people who are struggling with physical or mental health challenges right now.  When I think about how scared I was when we didn’t know what was wrong with Steve, I can’t help but whisper “Lord, have mercy” on behalf of my friend whose husband is fighting for his life against leukemia right now.  They know they are battling a formidable foe and I wonder what thoughts go through her mind as she lies in bed during those dark, restless hours.  

I remember my dear friend’s journey with cancer last year.  How very, very sick she was and how brave and resilient she became as she fought her way back to health.  I remember how helpless we all felt in light of her suffering, yet how privileged we were to walk the road with her each in our awkward, fumbling way.  I think about those whom I know who find a way to live lives of meaning in spite of chronic pain or chronic illnesses, like MS or diabetes or Alzheimers.  Or the friends and family I know who daily choose paths of healing in light of their battles with alcoholism or depression.

Good health is something we often take for granted until it becomes something for which we yearn.  Those times when a return to just a regular, ordinary day sounds like a dream come true. The older I get, there are more and more reminders that challenges like these are an inevitable part of the human journey.  Today I feel good, tomorrow I might not.  Life is fragile and our time is limited, a fact I sometimes forget in the bright light of my busy days.  We have all the time in the world…until we don’t.  

As the song says, perhaps it IS a gift to remember to live like we are dying.

Do thoughts of your own mortality inspire or depress you?