Wednesday, October 5, 2016


The Last Walk (Part 6)

            Dozens of people have told me they are praying for Karen, including my friend Anis in Bangladesh.  Karen has international prayer support!
            Nevertheless, her condition deteriorated after her chemotherapy was pushed back from September 20 to October 6.  It became clear she was would not be able to endure the harsh cocktail of poisons modern medicine uses as its main weapon against cancer.  And she herself said she didn’t want more chemo.
            So we transferred Karen from palliative to hospice care.  Thirty-seven years ago, when Karen was psychology graduate student, she volunteered in an early hospice program.  1979’s cutting edge medicine has been standardized.  The hospice people know what they’re doing.
Hospice care focuses on comfort, not cure.  The goal is to reduce the pain and anxiety at the end of life.  The intake nurse explained the program and made changes in Karen’s pain management plan.  Instead of pills she had to swallow, the intake nurse ordered liquid painkillers.  (For the most part, the same meds as before, but much easier to take in liquid form.)  Later in the day, a deliveryman set up a hospital bed.  Tomorrow, Karen’s primary hospice nurse will make his first visit, review the care plan, and make sure we know how to administer liquid pain meds.  Nursing assistants will come twice a week to help with bathing, shampoos, and what not.
No one can tell how long she will live.  In July Doctor G said chemotherapy might give us a year or two.  In a few cases, even with metastasized cancer, it provides a cure.  Obviously, that did not happen this time.  We still live with uncertainty, but the range of possibilities is shrinking.  Our last walk will be much shorter than I hoped.
So why doesn’t God answer all those prayers?  Didn’t Jesus promise that the Father would grant anything Jesus’ disciples asked for?  Is it really God’s will for Karen to suffer as she does?  As a philosopher I find such questions… interesting and worthy of discussion.  If the questions are supposed to convey arguments, I don’t think the arguments will hold water.  As a man whose heart is breaking, I find such question express only a part of what I feel.
I worship a man who let his enemies kill him.  Given the solidarity of the human race, I must be included among those enemies.  While he suffered our hate, that man cried out to God, “Why have you forsaken me?”  The man I worship faced despair greater than I will ever know, and he triumphed by dying and rising again.  By death and resurrection, he has conquered me—and he conquers my fears.
Karen and I will part soon.  Our last walk will end.  For now.

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