Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Are you prepared?

Where will you be, dear Christian, when the debt you owe is due? Will death find you ready, strengthened by the Sacraments? Or will it catch you unawares? If you knew you only have a few hours left on this earth, what would you do with them? This question came to me in the most personal and horrible ways. My mother, my poor dear mother, spent her last few hours on earth playing games on Pogo.com. Working on getting my badge since she had already completed her own. She was in severe pain and had actually gone to the doctor's office because of it. He gave her some Motrin and told her to go to the ER if it got worse after giving her an EKG and determining she wasn't having a heart attack. Until the very last minute, she was in the computer room, my old bedroom, playing a game, while my dad sat alone in the kitchen, waiting for her to come out for dinner. They never did have dinner that night. As she emerged from the computer room, he knew straight away she was not well. He had seen that look before: the day his own mother died (which was Mother's Day. Thankfully the whole family was there so at least she spent her last few hours with family). The thought of my mother all alone, trying to ignore her immense pain, breaks my heart and the pain is unbearable.

If my mother was told she only have a few hours to live, would she have spent them playing Pogo? Maybe. Why not? She enjoyed those games but deep down I suspect she would have at least spent them with my dad and me and my children. She would have said her good-byes and made sure we knew everything. Since this didn't happen, my dad and I were are lost. Shocked and struck with grief, we hadn't a clue what to do. It was the sort of thing my mom took care of. (Thankfully my mother's brother and sister-in-law stepped in and helped).  I'm trying to remember the last time I saw her. And if I told her I loved or at least thanked her for the kind act she was providing me at the time, which shamefully I cannot recall what it was.

How will you have spent the last few precious moments of your life? St. James says our life is "a vapour which appeareth for a little while and afterwards shall vanish away." (James 4:15)  We all die, and like waters that return no more, we fall down into the earth (2 Samuel 14:14). St Alphonsus tells us that "there is nothing more precious than time; but there is nothing less esteemed and more despised by men of the world". This is what St Bernard deplores when he says "Nothing is is more precious than time, but nothing is regarded more cheaply. The days of salvation pass away, and no one reflects that day which has passed away from him can never return". Think of all those moments where we were just "killing time". It is gone, never to return. The hours you've killed will return to haunt you on your deathbed (if you should be so lucky).

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