“The spirituality of certain death requires acceptance that our stake in the future springs, not from an afterlife, but from whatever ideas and creativity we can muster and then pass on – through our family, friends and work. The greatest joy is to challenge ourselves to contribute.” Sean Faircloth
There is nothing like impending death against the stark relief of life to drive us to search for meaning to both.
In a few days I’ll make a short flight to Boise Idaho where I will spend a week with my terminally ill brother. Probably the last few moments of his short time on earth. He’s only 55. He is the first of six siblings to make this journey. My heart is broken.
As I prepare to tell him goodbye, I am like all humans, transfixed upon the finality of death and the force with which it makes us contemplate our beliefs, our sentiments, and our maturity towards life and its ending. As I try to come to terms with the idea that my time left with my brother is brief, I also find myself subconsciously bringing balance to his approaching death by reflecting upon his life. Doing so has allowed me to acknowledge that my brother will live on well past his physical presence on this earth. As Mr. Faircloth muses …”our stake in the future springs…from whatever ideas and creativity we can muster and then pass on through our family, friends and work.” My brother’s afterlife, his personal stake in the future, lies in all that he has done as a man with his short time on earth.
My brother’s stake in the future lies within the hearts of two sisters, both of them quite a bit younger, whose older brother managed to take time out to teach them football and the art of spitting between one’s teeth. The same brother would later invite me to Genesis and even later give me a much-needed survival talk before I moved to California. His Robin Williams-esque humor has given us many wonderful laughs and will always be the topic of family conversations. These two sisters, and the rest of his siblings, will keep their brother alive in their hearts, his future is secure in their memories.
His stake in the future lies within the potential of my second son, who became my brother’s namesake. No matter where he goes, what he does, and how he does it, my son will carry on my brother’s name and affect his own circle of lives. I am always reminding my son of the man he is named after and the example he provides and the responsibility he has to carry on the name in good standing. My brother’s stake in the future is secure in the form of my son.
My brother’s stake in the future lies also in the three children who have had him as a step-father. I know his love and adoration for them is unmatched – and unsolicited – which makes it even more significant. I am certain that each of those persons have learned what it means to be a father, a husband, a gentleman, a provider, and a friend …all from my brother. His stake in the future is secure in the lives of the children who’ve been lucky enough to have him as a dad.
His stake in the future lies in the life of his wife as well. For several years now, my siblings and I have watched as he has cared for his wife through her own health struggles. His devotion and love, not unnoticed from a distance, stand as a testament to all of us and reinforce that our wedding vows really do mean ‘in sickness and in health.’ He could have scattered to the four winds long ago and left the care of his wife to others, but that’s not his style. His style was in being there for every appointment and conversation. His style meant clean sheets for his wife when she got home from a major surgery. My brother’s stake in the future lives on in his sweet wife whose current health is a direct result of his diligent care from yesterdays.
His stake in the future lies also in his work. During this rough time, his boss and cohorts have extended support and advocacy towards my brother and his wife in only the way that us compassionate humans can, and WOW, they’ve gone way beyond anything that could ever be asked of them. Why? Because of the way he’s lived his life and contributed himself to everything around him, even in his job. His stake in the future is secure even in the lives he has touched even in the workplace. We should all be so fortunate.
In the past, we have relied on the idea of an afterlife as a means to bring peace and a way to cope with the finality of death. But our afterlife does not exist in some far off, mysterious place. Our afterlife exists here on earth, in the thousands of ways, positive or negative, that we contribute to life and those around us. It exists in the lessons we pass to others, in the love we share with others, in the memories we create with others. I can say with all conviction that my brother’s stake in the future is well guaranteed here on earth. There is where I find my comfort and peace, and death’s sting is made much less painful because of it.
Be Well, and LIVE your life!