Death, my enemy or my friend? Or both? I know I have the assurance of my faith that teaches me that death is but a threshold to life, that life is changed, not ended, that the cross of Jesus has conquered death and His resurrection has restored life. I firmly believe all this and that is why I can dare to regard death as a friend.
But who can fail to share with me the anxiety and fear that death brings; the sense of uncertainty and of the unknown that it conjures; the dread, darkness and doubt that shroud my mind as the moment of dying draws near. Death, in a certain sense, indeed is also an enemy for it severs my bonds with the world, with my dear ones, with myself and, in a way, even with my God. Death cuts off my relationship with the world, the world into which I was born and wherein I lived, the world where I grew up, as I have to leave it and let go. Death wrenches me away from those who are dear to my heart, those into the texture of whose lives the thread of my love has been woven, as I have to part and bid ‘Goodbye’. It divides me from myself ‘disintegrating’ and wasting away as my soul separates from its earthly tent that is my body. It fills me with a sense of loneliness and abandonment, which even Jesus in His last moments at Calvary experienced, as I feel God is apparently so distant and absent.
It is not easy to let go of the world where I had lived, the world to which I had grown accustomed and with which I was familiar. It is not easy to surrender human relationships, that despite their fragility and finitude, have strengthened and sustained me. It is not easy to behold this earthly tent that is my body to be folded up and tucked away so very unceremoniously. It is not easy to face the certainly of oncoming death when I feel seemingly forgotten and forsaken even by a loving and life-giving God.
In a way, I am already tasting death; I have been severed from the world to which I was accustomed; I have been separated from all those dear to my heart; I sense how this earthly tent is beginning to fold up with wrinkles and creases etched firmly on my physical frame. Every night, as the darkness deepens and the silence makes the loneliness even more acute, as I retire in my little cell, not promising myself the next morning, I look lovingly at the statuette of our Blessed Mother that stands by my bed, that was gifted to me by a dear Nun friend. I give Mary a “Good-Night” kiss. I ask Mary my Mother to stand by me even as she stood by the dying Jesus at Calvary, and to keep watch over me, so that should that final moment come when my eyes are closed in sleep, I may with my last breath be able to say to the Father even as Jesus did: “Into your hands I commend my spirit” and thus pass from death to life!