For some, death is only vaguely foreseen, and strikes suddenly with little preparation or advance notice. Such a death affects little of one’s daily life up to that moment – hence always “tomorrow.” For others, death is predictable if not scheduled, and that predictability drives the schedule of their lives – hence never “tomorrow.” In either case, death ultimately comes to each of us. And more often than not, it comes about consistent with how we have lived our entire life. Yet on occasion some follow the path of their death into a U-turn, going in mind and heart to places they never dared venture before.
My friend and I spent many an hour over coffee and bagels exploring the subject of Life, Life’s meaning, and our relationship to God. And what it means to truly “live with God.” There were always so many questions to explore, answers to be sought. But they were never questions about whether God, doubts about God; rather, there were only questions about how to know God. What God is truly about, and thereby, what we are truly about.
And so this dear friend’s impending death emerged to be just one more question, one more exploration, one more opportunity for understanding. That his death was certain, and on a short timeline, was never denied. That many human experiences and special relationships would be lost was also understood and expected. But the inevitability that we all face – yet continually deny – was accepted; yes, with sadness, but with little regret.
By embracing his reality, even as he sought to extend it by the drugs and the radiation, greater clarity came. When death finally does come over that distant hill, parks itself on your front stoop and rings the doorbell, it brings in its briefcase a full serving of clarity. Clarity about what is truly important in our human life rises to the top, and all the false importances that we have chased for so long settle to the bottom like dirt separating in a water glass. So we can sip from the clear water on top, and leave the extraneous behind. In that clarity, time becomes precious, personal interactions become primary, needed words finally get said.
I will miss my friend. I will miss our conversations. I will miss the stimulation of thinking, the camaraderie of our shared ongoing search. All pursued within that Irish passion, smile and good humor. He will be missed by many others in their own way, from their own experience. Be well and at peace, my good friend. Yours was a life worth remembering. Enjoy all the new answers you are now finding to your so many questions. Know that in another time and place you will have new questions to be answered; your journey will continue. But for this moment, be now with God. In the place where we will all ultimately arrive.
In my memory of Dennis Murphy. June 19, 2014.
© 2014 Randy Bell