life and death

"For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord."

2 Corinthians 5:1-8

five short years ago my then-24-year-old cousin Jason was diagnosed with uncurable brain cancer. we prayed for a miracle. we prayed for God's will. we prayed for peace and understanding. we prayed for life.

Jason married Heather a few years ago. we celebrated in the new mexico sunshine without a care in our hearts. we all know that our days are numbered, yet none of us know the number. we prayed for many days together for Jason and Heather.

a few months ago, after many promising treatments, the cancer began again to grow. spread. suddenly it was in Jason's brain stem.
and now we are down to the days. the numbered days. the count-on-one-hand the days we have. this pain is unspeakable. when i think about Heather, and my aunt and uncle and other cousins sitting with him now, reading to him, singing songs of worship, praying, and crying, my own grief for their pain is overwhelming and immeasurable.

on april 24, 1985, my mother gave birth to a perfectly healthy, albeit a little loud, baby girl named rachel lynn. someone picked up the phone to call california. my aunt Sharon, who several weeks earlier had given birth to Andrew, answered the phone in a panic and said, "Andrew's not breathing. we're going to the hospital. i'll call you later."

my aunt sharon never forgets my birthday, because it was the day she nearly lost her youngest son. and though Andrew's had his share of medical fun, he not only survived that frightening moment, he thrived. and he now sits at his brother's side as Jason slowly expires from this world.

how can i celebrate my 28 years of life when Jason is losing his? do you know, today my aunt emailed me to wish me a happy birthday. today, while her eldest son is spending his last moments in her arms, she came to share her love with me. how? how is that possible?

we have an unshakeable hope. yes. we a Savior who has gone before us, who has made a home and a body for us in eternity. and for those of us left behind, while Jason sheds his failing body of death, we soldier on, marching down our numbered days until we join him. what great joy and what great sorrow are held in this moment. death and life are held in the same hands.

Jason. Go under the grace. Go see our Savior's face. The angels point your way.