Death, thinking of it, being exposed to it and the certainty that each of us, and all those we love, will be taken one day sobers the human experience. In some ways, each happiness we find, no matter how profound, no matter how surprising or enduring is merely "whistling past the graveyard." I suspect that our fellows who pass suddenly, whether by accident, misadventure, tragedy or naturally really are, in the words of Grumpy Old Men "lucky b*st*rds."
It must be far more difficult to know that disease will win, but not knowing exactly when nor what one will be asked to physically tolerate as the end approaches. For those who must peer into the mist, knowing that the hooded figure is coming, the burden of the temporally uncertain certainty as well as the extreme physical discomfort can be revealing of one's deepest character and truest self. Perhaps in some ways we can consider that a gift from one we love who is leaving us.
I hope the most peaceful, if not the most painless, path is afforded to those who have lived their to be truncated lives well. I hope honorable people, who tried to do the right thing always, who rarely blamed others for their failings, whose forbearance of other imperfect humans stand as examples to all of us can understand at the end how much they have been appreciated and loved. I hope those who chose the difficult path of bringing new life into this difficult and magnificent place, who reared those new lives with skill and dedication, understand that their children chose to do the same in part in tribute to those who had raised them and are now leaving. I hope those whose time is ticking too fast, too fast and still choose happiness and laughter and grace, above all grace, can see how we watch them in awe and want only to ask that they not go, not yet, please, not yet.
But of course, they must, as we all must. He has entered the room and both the fortunate for today and the dying are comforted by the realization that this is not the end, that Death's power is only of this earth. I hope as he anticipates his temporary victory, Death views with respect the fierceness of her fight, the honor of his foe and the majesty of the family, not limited by blood, she has created, nurtured and to whom she has presented an extraordinary example of a life well lived. If courage is indeed "grace under pressure," then she has equalled any soldier.
Heaven will be a brighter place in a short while, too short a while. Those who remain have been witnesses to a work of art, a selfless life lived with enthusiasm, energy, faith, wit, honesty and dedication to her family and the right action.
Godspeed and thank you.