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…


25 thoughts on “The Coming Radiance

  1. It was kind of you to reblog this last post from Martha, which otherwise I would have missed. I am sad to learn of her death. I have been warmed by her words and her understanding on many occasions. And what a message of joy she sends as her farewell! Grace by name and Grace by nature, indeed.


  2. I am here thanks to my beautiful blogger friend Wynne Leon and have just read your mother’s final and incredibly moving post. I hope you will keep this site live for a while so I can read her past posts and get to know her gracefully. Thank you so very much to you, her son for taking the time to share this. How beautiful that you knew her. Losing a remarkable mother isn’t easy. I know. Hold on to the precious memories and her wonderful words of wisdom.


  3. Reblogged this on Surprised By Joy and commented:
    I’m not sure how many of you also followed Martha Hendricks of the White Hair Grace blog so forgive me for introducing someone you might already know. But for anyone who wasn’t, Martha was an 80-year-old blogger with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and sharing the stories of getting old gracefully. She had a lot of roles in her life. In her words, she was “professional classical singer; a Norwegian rosemaler; a pastor. And now a writer. “

    I say “was” because she passed away this past August. But not before penning an incredible post that is as much about living as it is dying. So I’m reblogging this beautiful writing from an lovely woman:


  4. We are so thankful for the blessed words of your Mother! Please be so kind as to keep her blog active on WordPress to bless all of us who have just discovered her. Let it be a tribute to her and a breath of life to the wonderful words she has written for the world to read and feel. Let her words have a life of their own and reach out and touch the hearts of others like the ripples running from the drop of a pebble in a pond.

    So very sorry for the loss of your beloved Mom! Please consider keeping her blog active as a tribute to her. You can also schedule out one poem a day in advance from her archives starting with her first posts here to share with the followers that she had. Customer Service can help you learn how to do that.


  5. Martha blessed me in so many ways. Even here in her final entry, knowing it to be just that, she focuses on reaching out to others, offering still more comfort and more encouragement while she can. Her legacy lives in many hearts, and there can be no doubt that she is now being celebrated in eternity. Wishing you joy forever, dear friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You are such an
    Inspiration to me from the first day I met you. I knew you were special! You will be missed dear one ❣️


  7. Our prayers are with you and your family! Your mother was a remarkable woman who touched our lives with her wonderful blog and her beautiful spirit,


  8. Rest well Martha. You will always be much loved and missed. To her family my thoughts prayers are with you at this time.


  9. Oh Miss Martha, tears flood over my keyboard both sad and happy all at once. I have always been so inspired and in awe of you. Lucky to work in your presence for a year or two. It had been a while since we talked and since I had visited White Hair Grace for inspiration, for that I am feeling a bit guilty. I am still grappling with my personal journey of what it means to age gracefully and die in gratitude someday, but you will forever be a key teacher in this important ‘life’ lesson.

    Immense love to you where you are. ❤️


  10. Attachment available until Sep 23, 2022 Hello again (“again” after the comment I wrote within the blog).

    Just wanted to share the visual gift I had sent to Martha a few days before she passed. I emailed her the mp4 file and, not knowing what device she might have to watch it on, also uploaded it to a YouTube video, but at an incorrect resolution so it didn’t present well there.

    In case it was never discovered in her email, I am attaching the mp4 file here for you. Martha always was so supportive of my work, both as a mindfulness teacher and as a nature photographer. She inspired me to stretch into new territory, to continue to grow and explore. This video is a remembrance and celebration of her.

    Holding you all in my heart with sorrow for your loss,

    The Other Martha

    Click to Download My Friend Martha movie file.mp4 171.5 MB



  11. Of course Martha would surprise us all with another flash of light and love, with your help. Thank you for gifting us with yet another inspiring message. Few people in my life have inspired me as much as Martha did. If I could be half as wise, half as insightful, half as inspiring, half as grateful (and graceful) as your mother, it would be enough. Her energy is eternal. What a privilege to have known her.


  12. While it’s hard to imagine there won’t be another Martha post, email, or phone call, I shall continue to see and hear (and feel) Martha in all the good and beautiful things in this world. I shall carry her in my heart with gratitude for our deep friendship and every laugh and tear we shared. And I shall hope to live by her example—carrying life more lightly, reverently, and with that sweet joy and wonder that comes when you look at life (struggles and all) as one beautiful and mysterious gift. And in time, I shall smile often and with a twinkle in my eye that speaks to how grateful I am that she blessed this world and my life.


  13. Martha, I loved your spirit and your wisdom, and now I mourn your passing. Blessings and condolances to your family.


  14. i loved martha. she and nancy at cumc taught me how to be a pastor so many years ago. i cherished her then, and cherish her now. much love and many prayers for your family.


  15. Such sad news. The last post was like all of your Mother’s wonderfully inspiring posts. What grace indeed she had right up until the end. Thank you for sharing with us all.


  16. Thank you so much for posting this message. She is such an inspiration to so many and will be truly missed and remembered with much love.


  17. I am saddened to hear of your mother’s death. The moments of grace she shared on her blog got me through some rough days. I read her final message to us with the utmost gratitude, and I thank you for posting it. What a remarkable woman your mother was.

    Liked by 3 people

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