Of Life and Living

The following is a piece that I wrote shortly after the death of my Aunt Cathy. It has been sitting on the forefront of my heart for the past few months, and I felt like I needed to share it.

So, here it is.

Of Life and Living

I didn’t feel death. I know that a lot of times, people talk about how they can feel the presence of death in a room as someone is about to die. I didn’t. I didn’t feel like it wasn’t the thing that needed to happen, because it was. The cancer had spread and it was torturing her body. I knew it was coming.
But I didn’t expect the hours leading up to it. I didn’t expect the blank stare. I didn’t expect the build up of fluid in the throat causing one of the most heart wrenching sounds I’ve ever heard. I didn’t expect to not be able to handle that.
Because I can handle a lot. I’ve seen a dead person before.
This was different though. She wasn’t dead, she was dying.
Or was she?
Was she dying? Yes, her breathing had slowed, the gurgling coming from her throat had hastened, and her body was fighting. Those signs were all there.
But, I like to think of it more as the last chapter of living, the one before the chapter on celebrating, which is right before the chapter on joy and worship. I know that we have seen those chapters before. We see celebration when a child is born or a couple is wed. We see the chapter on worship when we read of Jesus worshipping His Father in the temple. We’ve seen it all before. But, it isn’t until we flip the page from the last chapter on living that we really understand what celebration or worship or joy are all about.
You see, death is a strange thing. So much sorrow amidst so much freedom. It is hard to lose someone we love. It is still hard. It will never be easy. But I celebrate today knowing that my aunt is free. Free from pain. Free from hurt. Free to run and celebrate and worship God for all He did and has done for her!
Freedom often comes in the form of a final breath, a last chapter. Though it is the last chapter we will see here on earth, it is the beginning of a new book on freedom.
Who gets to the last chapter of a book they absolutely love and have fallen in love with and stops, anyways? Me, I like to pick the book up again. I like to read the pages again. I like to go back to the chapters and the stories that left me changed. I like to go back to the times where I read on and felt like a better person because of the life lived out on those pages.

I didn’t feel death. I felt love and peace. And, most of all, I felt freedom.

Thank you for taking the time to read and visit this little corner of the Internet. Know today that you are loved. You are valued. And that you are needed.

-JosH

Proud of You

As humans, we have a desire (spoken or not) to be acknowledged.  Not only to be acknowledged, but to be told that someone is proud of us; proud of all we’ve done, all we’re doing, and all we’re going to do.  Since the beginning of our relationship, Ashley has always done that for me.  She has been a constant voice of encouragement.  On the good days, on the days that I just want to quit my job and become a hermit, on the days that are “fine” but something still seems a little off. She’s been that voice.

For the past 731 days, I’ve tried to be the same for her.  The following is something I recorded for her on one of her rough days.  Where her arm was reared back, and the towel was balled up tight, ready to be thrown will all of her might.  She was frustrated with life and her job.  She was defeated.  It was in that moment, and in these moments, that I knew what I needed to do.  I needed to speak life.

This is what came out.

We're Note Done Walking Yet

Ash, I love you and I am so dang proud of you.

//Who encourages you? And, who do you encourage?//