Friday, June 28, 2013

At Death's Door...

No, not that door.

Here in Door County, Wisconsin--sometimes referred to as the Cape Cod of the Midwest, what with its quaint villages along the waters of Lake Michigan. and kept that way by the most hard-hearted zoning in the Midwest--we know that the name of the county (Door) comes from the name the Native Americans gave to the passage between the peninsula and Washington Island, which lies about five miles off its tip: they called it Death's Door, so named for the many who perished fighting the current and the wind that buffets sea-goers.

The passage to and from Washington Island is made dozens of times each day, by hundreds of people, with not a hint that they are traversing death's door.  Such is the world in which we now live.

And such is the world in which we now die!  Except for those who die in accidents, and those who die by the hand of another, death is not the sudden translocation from one sphere of existence into another.  Most of us, when the time comes, are ready to open that door ourselves--as our last and final decision in life.

That is how I have been privileged to witness it happening in family and friends: both my parents and my spouse's parents made their peace with its inevitability, and when the time came simply passed over.  And, more recently, I have witnessed the death of a brother-in-law and a first cousin, both in the prime of their late working/early retirement years, taken early by cancer.  But both, loving and gracious and bitterness-free as they used their final months helping the rest of us deal with our grief-to-come.

I'm here until sometime this Fall, and then it's back to...?  I'll let you know as soon as I do.

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