The Coming Radiance

Dear friends, I am Martha’s eldest son posting these final words that mom felt she needed to share. She wrote this post August 12th, but didn’t publish it. My mom passed away peacefully, surrounded by her family this past Sunday, August 21st. She so loved writing this blog and sharing her life with all of you. Thank you all for the joy you gave her. She is with her beloved Dwight once again.

“Learning to be still, to be really still, and let life happen – that stillness becomes radiance.”

Morgan Freeman

My dear readers and followers – Hello again! Surprise!

When I wrote my last blog in May and closed out my White Hair Grace page, I thought that my work of seeking out the miracles of grace had reached a kind of natural conclusion. Of course, the best of intentions meet up with life’s larger plans, and here I am with something more to say.

My last words were not the last ones after all, and I want to tell you of the ever-changing landscape of my life that followed what I thought was becoming closure. It has become unexpected and inspirational in so many ways I never dreamed would unfold. And I need to tell it because it is so seldom told and, I believe, so very needed.

I did indeed begin a new chemo treatment in February for my newly appearing, very aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma. I did have some side effects that showed up that were not any fun at all, but you endure in hopes that the drugs are working. By May, we knew they were not.

To continue or not? There was a Phase 2 drug trial that came up at just the right time, and I was an ideal patient. I began that in mid-May. The side effects became extreme…increasingly bad: deep fatigue; inability to eat much; and I would slip into depression and hopelessness. Nothing was of interest to me. The “inspiring” writer who had been brave and calm and resilient grew smaller and smaller. I was very disappointed in myself. I would not inspire anyone at this rate.

I said that we would stop. It was an easy and clarifying decision to make. I was exhausted, it was clear that the drug was not working…my tumor was huge now and others had appeared. Hospice would become my future.

The drug nearly took me out on its own at the end of July. Rushed to Mayo’s ICU one evening, I was in bad shape.

Now, to see if we could even get me into the severely restricted care facility morass. We found a wonderful place in Wisconsin where my son and daughter-in-law live, and I moved in a week later under the banner of rehab. I was incredibly weak, but have grown stronger and when therapy is done, I will officially enter hospice right here where I am. So now I have a forever home, and I am enjoying it so much!

This is where the bad story takes a radical turn, and new life has entered, a new life that is so full of happiness and joy and discovery, conversations with loved ones and old friends, making my new community a safe place and loving meeting new people and sharing our stories, and we are one.

There is so much more than that, though. There is a steady stream of surprise that is showing up: joy, laughter, deep happiness; a feeling of being carried along a quiet river, safe and embracing and peaceful beyond imaging.

I am learning that we, the dying have so much to impart to those who are still living fully. To let you know that when the time comes to live out your mortality, there is incredible, numinous radiance, miraculous, deep peace, laughter that heals and coming together in ways that, soul to soul, we experience in no other way.

I do not fear my death. I am amazed by my deep happiness in the midst of this new and final journey. I plan to be as happy as I can to the end, yet I don’t have to do that myself …it is simply showing up.

I hope to leave behind the very thing that I have been most captured by: what grace looks like, feels, sounds like. I am still learning, but oh, the lessons it still brings as I just sit back and let it come to me with just what I need.

I can confidently say, do not be afraid. For most of us, the best is yet to come.

With love and gratitude for each of you…