I tend to pay attention to the deaths of those who die younger than me, and age fifty-one is definitely in my rearview mirror. Mike O'Brien, a longtime CBC comedy writer and an actor who played a recurring character on "Corner Gas," died of cancer recently. O'Brien wasn't keen on dying young, yet he remained thoughtful and playful to the end, as is evident in his blog called The Big Diseasy, a play on The Big Easy. https://thebigdiseasey.wordpress.com/
Here is his final blog post from last Sunday -- last Sunday! While I would challenge his "faith is earned" observation, who am I to quibble with a courageous dead guy.
Do you gotta have faith?
Faith is earned. I have faith in my oncologists. I have faith in my radiologist, my surgeons, my nurses, my pharmacist and my counsellors. They all helped me live longer. I have faith my palliative care team will help me through my final footsteps.
After years of surgery and chemo and radiation burns and pain, I have a hard-won faith in my own body. To paraphrase E.E. Milne, I was stronger than I knew. Above all, I have faith Robin will guide Will toward a fine life. That’s the belief I treasure the most.
Many people pray for me. I appreciate their efforts. Knowing that other people care about me is spiritually uplifting and therefore medically beneficial. I feel stronger. Thank you.
But I have to continue to believe what I always have. I am a secular humanist. I believe we can achieve ethical, kind co-habitation, based on science, not superstition. It incorporates some of the teachings of prophets like Christ, Buddha and Muhammad (image not available).
I admit, my internal monologues sometimes turn into dialogues with unseen powers. “If you’re there, I would love to go camping one more time.” But is that faith, or bargaining? I refuse to be a death-bed convert, finding God one second before midnight. If that’s not hypocritical, it is certainly convenient. Of course, I may be wrong. I often am. Fortunately, if God really exists, I’m confident he’ll look at my overall record and let me slide on the faith/skeptic issue. It just sounds like the kind of decent thing he’d do.
I've known a number of people through the years who talk a really good game about heaven but in the end are terrified about dying. Sadly, my own clergy Dad couldn't talk about his impending death. Honestly, I have no idea how I will face the end, even though I'm in the eternal life business. And because I follow the Christ of love, I suspect that all death-bed converts are welcome. I think there may be a parable or two to support that notion.
Are you ready to meet your Maker? Are you just "dust in the wind" and good with that? What do you think of Mike O'Brien's last blog entry?