“Everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.” I was reminded yesterday of how true this old saying is. I was visiting with a man who has been dying for weeks. Embarrassingly, I prepared his family about a month ago that it could be any day. After all, he has all the signs. I’m not going to describe his appearance. But if you saw him, there would be no doubt. He’s still coherent which is surprising at this point.
His exhausted family has said their good-byes and has been keeping vigil, not for days, but for weeks. This man is a mystery. He has had no food, no drink, nothing by mouth for 18 days. I know, doctors will say that’s impossible, but I'm witnessing it.
Well, I decided that enough is enough. It’s time I escort him to heaven (in a loving way of course.) No, not euthanasia. I just thought I could coax him to let go. So I asked, “If you had the choice to stay here lingering in this broken body or go to heaven and be in perfect health, which would you choose?” He’s incredibly weak and his answer was mumbled, but I understood him clearly. “I want to stay here.”
What?? Not the answer I wanted to hear. Keep in mind that he told me months ago that he’s a believer and knows his Savior. So why on God’s green earth, would he choose to stay here? I just can’t figure it out. Fear of the unknown? Not wanting to leave his family? Maybe. But at this point . . . I simply can’t fathom a logical reason.
Maybe that’s it. Nothing about dying is logical. And while we may think we know how we would respond to my question, we really don’t, not until we are approaching death’s door ourselves.
I wish he, and all the dying, could view it like Helen Keller who said, “Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there's a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see.” Sounds like a lifetime of silent darkness gave her a simple yet profound clarity. She later wrote, “I can see, and that is why I can be happy, in what you call the dark, but which to me is golden. I can see a God-made world, not a manmade world.”