It may seem strange to talk about growing old when Christina only lived to be 31. But I watched her carefully and was with her daily through her last several months. And I learned. I learned what it looks like to let go with grace. Here are a few observations.
1. Christina slowly gave up many things in the last few years.
She gave up living alone in Portland.
She gave up her motorcycle.
She gave up half her eyesight.
And with that she gave up driving.
And with all that decrease of ability,
she did not give up loving people.
She did not give up reaching out.
She carried on the most amazing conversations.
She wrote many, many encouraging e-mails.
She loved her husband well.
She cared for Isaiah as much as she possibly could and then graciously let others help her.
And as the end drew near, she gave up more.
She gave up being able to move very much.
She gave up being able to care for Isaiah at all.
She gave up all her eyesight.
And still, if you spent time with her, she did not complain. She asked how you were doing. She knew the issues of your life and wanted the details.
And though she couldn't see or move, she rejoiced hearing her close friend Mandy was pregnant and joked about naming the baby Georgie.
She told our Pastor Mike, (who had just had a heart procedure and some stints put in place) "Be careful, don't pop any stinties!"
|The last time Christina was able to hold Isaiah.|
2. Christina made much effort to stay engaged even though it was very taxing. Near the end, she said, "Tell everyone I am trying really hard even though it doesn't look like it." It would have been much easier to just quit and become silent and sullen. She fought the silence and withdrawal with every breath.
3. She spent no time talking about increased pain or decreased ability. Not one time did she complain about not being able to see. She seldom complained about pain--we had to figure it out by observation.
4. She graciously accepted help for all the things she could no longer do for herself.
And so, I think about my next years. If I live much longer, I will be facing the decreased ability brought on by the aging process. I long to be a person who engages the world around me and notices other people. I will try to keep my various physical failings in the background. I will try hard--just like Christina. I will celebrate what I can do and not become bitter about what I am leaving behind. And if I need help, I will accept it with grace and courage and remember the beautiful example that Christina lived for us.