Most of you reading this will automatically assume that I am suicidal and in need of an immediate intervention. Rest assured, that is not the case; instead, I throw a topic out there that is spoken of only in whispers and largely condemned throughout the races, cultures, lands and history. As you know, if you have been following my blog from the start, I have lived with rheumatoid arthritis since the tender age of five. I will not try to recap everything that this disease entails because it would be terribly redundant. It can be summed up with pain, loss of mobility, and many secondary ailments. There is no cure, all treatments are toxic, and the endgame is the same, dying in terrible twisted agony. And… Alone. Friends and loved ones will hang on as long as they can in their support, care, and love of you. But in the end, death will tarry causing enormous suffering on every level imaginable. Yet, this end is much easier to bear than it is to witness. Hence, friends and loved ones cannot bear to look upon your twisted frame or endure your cries. There is no condemnation in this statement, it is only a reality.
Lifers, people who have had a debilitating disease from birth to death, know well the end they face and spend their lives coping for that eventuality. Yet, those who are “short-termers” (people who develop a debilitating disease at 40 or above) cannot possibly fathom the end facing them. Truth be told, the short-termers are utilizing all their resources just to make it through the day so they are not capable of handling the idea of a horrific end. Likewise, the family and friends of ‘short-termers’ also have extreme difficulty dealing with their loved one’s ailment. Many will scatter and flee from this unknown terror leaving the ‘short-termer’ utterly alone. Chronic illnesses are not immediate death sentences; rather they are decrees of lifetime torture. I write this to honor the struggles of a couple of friends, who have been having a particularly active period with their respective ailments. I understand the pervasive ache in the hearts and minds of these friends for humanity is so limited in its understanding that it is easier to discard or abandon that which frightens us.
As a lifer, I have learned to live with my ailments and the attitudes of others toward me. At first, you try to hide it, be normal, do not let on that anything is different, for when they know, when then see, they run or worse, stay and persecute you. It has taken me a lifetime of watching my own mother deteriorate, worsen, then die a horrifically painful death as my own ailments progressed to see the utter lunacy of it all. I used to be driven mad by the whys of it all and human wisdom falls so far short that it was more a slap in the face than a comfort. Upon my journey, I clung to the knowledge that Christ loves me and that I was not being punished for some unknown sin. My suffering and the suffering of all has purpose even if we cannot see it in the moment. No one, no, not a single person can understand these words unless you have trudged through the bowels of hell, itself.
The turmoil within a person who must live with this daily torture can become so severe that he or she will begin entertaining the idea of ending their pain permanently. Pain, as a descriptor is a hopelessly inadequate term for the multilevel, pervasive emotional, mental, physiological, and spiritual pain a person with chronic disease suffers. We spend too much time getting people to just see us, just to validate that we are worthy of drawing breath and that there is just as much purpose, if not more, for our lives as there is for theirs.
When I express my desire for paradise then I am quickly labeled “suicidal”. Make no mistake; I hunger to be in paradise to feel one moment in my existence in which pain does not occupy. Anyone who is in chronic pain for a lifetime and says they do not look forward to the moment of release is either a masochist or a liar. Nevertheless, that does not make us suicidal, crazy, depressed, or faithless. Do I get depressed? Profoundly depressed on the spiritual level! Do I struggle with my faith, yes, but it is the struggle that brings understanding. I would love for the pain to be gone forever, but I feel extremely blessed because I am not attached to this world. I do not hold value in the things most people do because I know they are meaningless. Possessions mean nothing, fame means nothing, and fortune means the least because none of these things will release you. None of these things will bring happiness or understanding. They can only mask the pain and suffering of any who are in such pursuits. No Earthly thing will ever be able to fill the void left when a person turns from his or her Creator. Make no mistake, whether or not you believe in a divine creator matters little in the end because by that point, you have already wasted your existence by self-serving pursuits. If you have not attempted to decrease the suffering of others by any measure while you drew breath on this planet then your life meant nothing. You took up space and resources that could have been better utilized. Suffering exists only because of a broken creation. If you have done nothing to try to fix your little corner of creation then you are the problem. We all suffer, regardless of status, wealth, or power but the difference between Short-timers, lifers, and everyone else? We see it, we understand it we know the end game because our walk upon this earth is finite, our suffering is limited to no more than 120 years. It is a mere blip on the screen of humanity. We know it can be endured, survived, and even thrive in spite of it.
It is ‘everyone else’ with their mottos of, “don’t ever give up! Keep fighting the good fight! Or “these disabled people are all a draw on our resources, let them all die and rid ourselves of the burden.” that must be endured. The first motto may not seem so bad unless it is you doing the suffering. Our friends and loved ones don’t want to lose us so they demand we fight but they cannot provide any reason to continue the battle except for telling us that God controls life and death and not we ourselves. This is certainly accurate, but they do not provide any strategies of how to endure the suffering only that it must be endured. These statements are at least borne of love so we may resent hearing them but we can understand why they are uttered. The second set, ‘let them all die’, makes rational sense if you place value on a human being for only what you can get out of them and if you abide by strict parameters of what is of value that can obtained. The point is neither group has any business telling the one doing the suffering how they should or should not live. Humanity cannot fathom the creator’s plan; therefore, how can anyone individual hold the absolute truth? Just because someone prints it and packages it and you buy it doesn’t mean its the best or accurate way to live life. The only purpose for a human being is to make another human being better at being human. If we all did this, blind to all differences, then our creation would heal and suffering would stop. Yet, that seems impossible, and it truly is for mankind, because we cannot agree on anything small let alone the big questions.
If you are looking for answers, start the search within yourself, for that is where the problem begins. All of us are created for a very specific reason but none of us are forced to fulfill it. We are given the choice and the longer we take the more broken creation becomes, it can only end one way, in great suffering. We lifers already know this, we see it, and we feel it. We know the beauty, awe, and wonder of this glorious creation but we see the scars humanity continues to inflict upon one another, upon the land, upon the air, and even in space.
If you are healthy or if you are suffering, if you were given another day on this planet, then use it for the betterment of all instead of the advancement of yourself, for there is only one end for all in this corporal form. Make the journey worth it, make each of your steps count because even us “lifers” understand that only when our purpose has been fulfilled will God call us home; therefore, that must mean we have a job to do until we are released from these broken bodies. So…let us do it with great vigor towards a different ending, one of healing and not ultimate suffering.
Choosing death, mercy or madness? Of course, it would be merciful but that does not mean it is the way it is meant to be unless your purpose has been fulfilled and who are we to decide when the job is accomplished? There haven’t been many notable cases where God kicked in an ‘early retirement clause’ for humanity. Stay the course, keep fighting not because I cannot bear to lose you but for the sole reason that all of humanity needs you to fulfill your role, whether they ever recognize it or not.