Wednesday, December 11, 2013

If This Was My Last Christmas

A dear friend sent me this message (he was starting to feel the effects of his pain meds, so disregard the spelling. I copied/pasted it):

"food for you to think on...if you knew this was oribably your last Christmas....hwo wiould you reflwct on it???"

The last thing I want is for this post to be morbid, but I will be honest. This is an easy reflection to write because, truth be told, I do think about that every Christmas. Every birthday. Every anniversary. What if this is the last one? The LAST one! These thoughts started the Christmas after I was in a wreck in October 1999. I realized then how quickly my life can end. The thoughts intensified with the Christmas of 2008...the first Christmas after my stage 3b melanoma diagnosis. It seemed pretty certain, after I survived two surgeries, that I would see that Christmas. It's all the ones since then that I knew I might not see.

As Christmas 2013 nears, I'm relatively certain that I'll see this one. I'm still doing well with my melanoma. But I know this disease and I know how quickly things can change and I know how fast accidents can happen. Lightning can strike twice. Know what I mean? This may be my last.

So. How do I reflect? What thoughts cross my mind?

That this could be the last. Ever. Not just for me, but every celebration would not only be minus me but that fact would stare my family in the face. My two children and son-in-law will remember me. But what about my grandchildren? And hopefully there are grandchildren yet to be born. Hopefully I will one day have a daughter-in-law. What will she learn of me? Will my son look for a girl just like the girl that married his dear ol' dad? Or was I such an embarrassment that that will be the last thought on his mind? 

It's this thought that this might be my last and I want my grandkids to know me that lets people take more pictures of me. There really aren't many because I'm not photogenic. Now I don't care about that. I want them to know what I looked like. I want them to have something to point at and know "that's Granny."

My daughter has her PharmD. My son has just begun working on his masters in Math. I think I may never know what he eventually does with his brain. That thought kills me. I think I haven't paid down loans enough to leave Mitch without my income. I think I want him to find love again.

I think about the fact that there were millenniums when the world had no idea I would ever occupy a short time on this planet. And there will be millenniums when the world will not remember me. Not even my little corner. Eventually I'll be forgotten. Not even a name etched on stone because I want to be cremated and my ashes scattered over Mount Pisgah.

Though the world won't remember me, I want to leave my mark. Even if it only lasts a short while. Is a vapor. A flower quickly fading. Like me. I want to leave this place, at least thinking that I left it a little better than when I found it. I want the preacher who preaches my eulogy to postulate to the bereaved that God welcomed me with a "You did okay, Carol." If God can look me in the face and tell me that much, I'll breathe a huge sigh of relief and be tickled for all eternity. "Well done good and faithful servant" is too lofty a goal for me.

If this is the last Christmas Eve Candle Lighting Service I preach, I want to preach it so God smiles and the worshipers feel worshipful, even as they leave to enter back into the world of Santa Claus is Coming to Town. 

If this is my last Christmas, I want to spend it like I want to spend it and that's to spend it like my family wants to. I want them to know I was there with them. It all comes back to them. Them and God. They're my biggest blessings. And they are, each, gifts from God. Stick them under my tree, with a bow on their heads, and I'll be happy, happy, happy. And I'll grab the camera and take their pictures. So they'll remember.

My dear friend who originally asked how I'd reflect if this was probably my last Christmas...well, this may well be his last one and he knows it. 

It may well be mine too. I just don't know it yet.

I think those of us who live with any life-threatening condition know this may be the last and I think we reflect. I really don't think I'm alone in this.

But I'll tell you something: I think facing the fact that this may be the last always makes this the best Christmas ever. Here's to Christmas 2013!

Live it. Love it. With abundance. Your way. Include those you love. Remember Who it's all about.

And live every day as if it's your last. And I'm not being morbid.

I'm being honest.  Make it count.

Do OK. Do more than OK.

Live so that at the end of your time here, you hear "Well done good and faithful servant."

Merry Christmas!