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God Hears My Heart

God hears my heart and feels its cries.  It’s a wonderful notion – miraculous really, even if it was nothing more than a wishful sentiment. There are a lot of more serious problems in the world, so I understand that God touching a single man is just not reasonable to me.  Tomorrow is just another day to make that money (chase that bag) for my family, specifically my children, I’m a warrior.

Once, my daughter asked me if I wanted to talk to my three-year-old granddaughter, Ada (lefty to me).  I didn’t answer immediately because I was trying to consider the question and wondering at the same time why I was hesitating.

For a split second, I couldn’t remember her name.  Then, I was fully confounded – fully flummoxed – as the realization oozed from somewhere that I didn’t know or remember how to speak to a three-year-old.  It was my gift to be able to connect with kids and it seemingly had been deconstructed, swept away by the wind and evaporated into the fog.

On Lisa (a lawyer) and Richard Corey’s porch, I sat with my back to the house enjoying the warmth of the sun, despite the overcast sky.  I cried over the loss thinking maybe a good cry would help.  My chest was giving up the dissolving will to buck up.  I was letting go.

Looking to the sky before I gathered myself, the sun bursted (truly for me) from behind the clouds, as if the words, “I’m here my friend, got you.” were spoken.

I went the next day to the dementia walk dressed in my “I love dementia” tomato costume.  As the crowd walked by, a little girl of color came up to me and said, “hi there.”  I waved coyly and wondered why I was full of not warmth, but rather light.  God said to me, “It will be fine.”

Louise

“Number 19 please” is the hymn request that the pastor repeated so that everyone in the church/lunchroom could hear.  Then, he purposely paused as he eyed the twelve square tables used for church seating, these were also used for crafts, bingo and when pushed aside, for chair exercises.

His kindness was intertwined with his mistaken impression that it was important to keep on schedule.  The pause was to make sure everyone had found the correct song.  Louise, who sat at the first table by the door with her roommate Elaine, was radiant with joy.  I don’t use this as a metaphor – her joy, smile, enthusiasm and welcoming outstretch of her arms was real and palpable.  You couldn’t take your eyes off of her.  Dressed plainly but in perfect order, she belied her 87 years!  Waiting for the packed room to catch up, she said “This is my favorite song, my favorite!”  Others needed help from the nursing assistants, while others didn’t need the help because everyone knew they wouldn’t be following the verses of the paper covered song book – Dementia, to be sure, but also hearing and seeing impediments.  Some were laying back in their ‘wheelchairish’ beds.  Some knew they were attending church at Courtland Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.  Some did not know they were at church or Courtland.  Everyone knew ‘who was who’ until the singing…worshipping began with “Number 19 please.”  I couldn’t figure out why Louise was at Courtland.  Was she visiting?

Donald was in a wheelchair.  I never heard him speak in a regular manner, nor did he respond to yes or no questions.  But, he would accommodate any requests with a gentle look, opening his eyes which were most often shut.  I wondered whether he was asleep, but I came to know that he was resting in a peacefulness which was certainly coming from somewhere deep inside.  Sometimes, he looked like a contented statue.

The pastor knew all the words to “Number 19” and he led us into it.  Donald didn’t change positions one twiddle.  He didn’t open his eyes when he began to sing a little bit louder then softly.  I tilted my head toward him to see WHAT he was singing, or rather IF he was ‘singing’ at all (or just speaking).  He was, in fact, singing – word for word with a tiny sway although you sometimes couldn’t actually see it – I believe all verses, although I’m not totally sure, confusing myself amidst my surprise and delight.  He was not alone.  A few folks (four or five) worshipped in a similar fashion.  All my faith filled moments added up together didn’t match the moving of the Holy Spirit, who was surely swirling in our beings during that period of time.

The pastor was asked, “What next?”  He replied, “How about 62?”  Sure, why not – Louise found it quickly and lit up again – so moving that you wanted to be her student forever.  She said, “This is my favorite song, my favorite.” She had forgotten every word of “Number 19.”

 

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…”

 

October 2018

Lying to Dementia folks is ok?

 Lying to Dementia Folks is Okay?
On Linked In, Claire Picton, London England posts, “Everyone lies to other people, whether they have dementia or not. No one tells the truth 100% of the time.”
Not an uncommon phrase to which most of us subscribe, at least sometimes, especially when we are defending our own actions. Me included. When I was a lawyer, before the dementia days, I used to joke with friends that I lied more before nine in the morning that most people do in…oh, 36 hours? It was a weapon I concealed carried ‘to advance the courses of the unrepresented in their fight against the lies of the oppressor’ – whoever they might be. I would lie with prideful arrogance that I could fool whomever in the name of righteous expediency and social warfare. Trial lawyer and local politician were my professions, lying was my cash receipts. No harm, just a lie combating someone else’s lie. What’s a man to do? And of course, the behavior didn’t spread to my personal relationships. Any, if they did, they were – you know – white (interesting description) lies that didn’t hurt anyone and, if truth be told, probably relieved them of the pain truth often carries.
Until the lies were used in my self-interest as a dude living with dementia – Class of 2014, Vascular College, my supposed self-interest, my self-interest as defined by someone not myself. Self-interest which actually was not my self- interest at all, but the self-interest of someone else – caregiver- personal or professional- the medical community of neurologists and general practitioners, the spiritual community, the regulating community, especially in the area of nursing homes, memory units, dementia communities, hospitals, and the beloved Divisions of Motor Vehicles, wherever they may be located.
It sucks being on the receiving end of a lie – especially when you’ve got dementia, let me say that we dementia dudes and dudettes use the L weapon too – when they play the ‘I don’t remember’ card when they actually do recall. Hey, though, I might be the only dementia dude that has done this. It’s easy because normal people think we probably are not ‘cognitively aware enough’ to pull off the heist. Read – too dumb to lie. (But I digress, my mistake…sorry for the confessions, I’m having a bad day. It’s okay to feel sorry for me, sometimes.)
“But, there are times” you conscience whispers, “where a little white lie is a good thing. Right….like in warms or a hostage stand off, or when someone is on their death bed?”
 These examples show that whether its okay to lie often puts to use, the lie that justifies the lie. The lie that says you have a choice – to lie or not to lie. Wrong. The choice is to lie, not lie, or to say nothing, which assumes you are not king of the universe responsible for the happiness of the world.
The second lies that liars use is if one’s intent is pretty okay, then what the harm. What’s the harm of a white lie…everyone does it. My dad used to say “if everyone jumps off the cliff, does that mean you have to too?”
My premise – lying pollutes my soul. God hates lying – it’s actually one of the Old Testament commandments. And, to treat your neighbor as you would like to be treated, is relevant here, right? Maybe you like to be lied to, but the depth of that dysfunction is so deep it’s scary even to look over the edge.
Okay. Catch your breath. And me, mine.
Just some sayings about lies while you grab some water:
The verse that described (describes) me…”Part of you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.” (James 3:14)
“ The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.” (21:6 Proverbs)
“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him… haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows distort among brothers. (Proverbs 6:16-19)
And…
“Stop lying to each other. Tell the truth, for we are parts of each other and when we lie to each other, we are hurting ourselves.” (Ephesians 4:25)
So I was feeling pretty righteous. Reminding myself that lying is a big thing to God. So why is that , do you suppose? I go the three biggest liars I have ever met – They operated similarly – One was a student, popular, but could read only a tad until later. He was ashamed. He had developed reading avoidance skills (lying) that were truly hall of fame value. He had a beautiful smile, was charming,
 verbally dexterous. He could look you dead in the face and you would totally believe his lie/excuse, even though you knew of his reputation (not good news for liars) and put yourself on alert. The face was a perfect picture of naive honesty almost child-like. The tone of voice matched the words, and those words come in a steady stream of matter-of-factness.
The second person was a thief and a liar. You could actually see her steal and she would deny or excuse it so well that despite what your eyes, saw, you would believe her cupcake self. She was magnificent, too. In times of confrontation, she could lie to you, a denial, and then use the lie as a momentum and accuse you of a related injustice and poof! the lie was gone. Never apologize, always justify.
The third was of a sneaky variety. Thinking hard and days ahead, his plots were packed with lies. Sophisticated, the he would call student A to warn him that B was bringing a weapon to school tomorrow to threaten A. Then he would call B and tell him A was bringing a weapon and he should be ready. And then deny, credibly, the whole ugly saga when both A and B recited the story independently. He loved it.
And so did I, do I. It made me seem tougher and crazier than I was. Or I thought it did. The physical challenge in being the disciplinarian and principal was respect. I couldn’t fight, but I could crack, lie, troll the venom out of the best. This behavior leaked in to my kids. I would see my lie mode in them later and it would make me ashamed and nauseous.
But, the biggest reason I hated the expert liars was that I couldn’t discern it. As the headmaster, I had to make credibility judgements 100 times a day. When I couldn’t figure out the master liars it would cost me in time, energy, effectiveness. My spirit would be damaged, my soul would be bruised.
I could deal with institutions lying – the best police were the best liars in the courtroom, the Department of Education in its phony expertise.
I could deal with authority figures lying – expected it. But now in 2018, it’s different…lying is expected, accepted , but also glorified. The bigger lie told with an exclamation point, the better leader (con artist) you are. And with all the lies of both experts and institutions when one slipped by, it emboldened the organization or dude to continue and build on it. My dad used to say when you were actually
 caught in a lie, no one believed you afterwards. Now it has grown to – everyone lies, mine is bigger than yours.
The dynamics are much the same in the dementia world. Lying is encouraged if it keeps the dementia person happy. Do we really think that a lie cannot be discerned sometimes. And when it is a lifetime of trust, can be destroyed in one convenient lie to ‘protect’ us. Mrs. Moon would ask me repeatedly whether I knew her husband, George who was upstairs resting. Telling the truth – oh Mrs. Moon, George is dead and there is no second floor here in the nursing home.
That’s truth in cruelty. Yes, Mrs. Moon, it seems as if I’ve known about him for some time. Tell me about him – truth in love.
Yes, we have difficulty reading the smiling liars – but I did before as well. But when one hits my spirit, and not confessed nor repeated, I must assume. I do not have a partner that I can count on for the journey ahead. So it sucks for me. For the liar, no relationship of truth and trust is built, only one of manipulation and shortcuts. You become a diaper changer and a butt cleaner. Without love you can’t sustain the core. It’s too tiring, too personal, too uncomfortable, too gross.
Please don’t lie. Try hard. I will too. I pray that God hears my confession, strengthens me when the temptation comes wit the ‘everyone does it’ justification.
Some thoughts to leave you with:
The most common lie is that one lies to himself; lying to other sis relatively an exception. Friedrich Nietzsche
If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything. Mark Twain
I’m not upset that you lied to me. I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you. Friedrich Nietzsche
People think that a liar gains a victory over his victim. What I’ve learned is that a lie is an act of self-abdication, …..condemning oneself from then on to faking the sort of reality that person’s view requires to be faked…The man who lies to the world, is the world’s slave from then on…There are no white lies, there is only the blackest of destruction, and a white lie is the blackest of all. Ayn Rand
Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies. Dorothy Allison
 The truly scary thing about undiscovered lies is that they have a greater capacity to diminish us than exposed ones. They erode our strength, our self- esteem, our very foundation. Cheryl Hughes
There is beauty in truth, even if it’s painful. Those who lie, twist life so that it looks tasty to the lazy, brilliant to the ignorant, and powerful to the weak. But lies only strengthen our defects. They don’t teach anything, help anything, fix anything or cure anything. Nor do they develop one’s character, one’s mind, one’s heart, or one’s soul. José N. Harris
One lie has the power to tarnish a thousand truths. Al David
When a man is penalized for honesty, he learns to lie. Criss Jami
Over time, any deception destroys intimacy, and without intimacy, couples cannot have true and lasting love. Bonnie Eaker Weil
Those who are capable of tyranny are capable of perjury to sustain it. Lysander Spooner
She looks honestly upset, but then, I’ve learned I can’t read her. The problem with a really excellent liar is that you just have to assume they’re always lying. Holly Black
Once you take to the habit of deception, every new lie comes that much easier. Carolyn Kettlewell
The worst kind of lie – the kind shrouded in good intentions. The kind cowards use to justify their weakness. Renee Ahdieh
What harm does lying cause – one loses people’s trust. And once one loses trust, he becomes worthless. Dada Bhagwan

Ten thoughts about dementia

Dear Mr. McBride, I am sure you have gotten plenty of letters from those you coached and taught thanking you. Add me to the list. I’ve done some thinking about why you had such a big impact. So here goes. In my family there is a generational weakness that resulted in my grandfather being killed in WWI. A young man he was. As a result my father grew up without a person to show him the tough stuff of being a man. He managed and did well himself as a dad with my siblings and myself. But, there was a tentativeness that existed. As I was coming of age, you were so important because you were strong for all the right reasons – commitment to doing things the right way even when life’s pressures wanted to unravel you. Seeing sacrifice by going beyond what we thought our limits were, and developing a loyalty amongst us, through it was a lesson I put to use in my won school and my own family. Sometimes no is no and yes is yes. No matter what. Being able to stand firm as a group and as a result developing love between us caused us to appreciate and love the journey. You allowed us to see. You taught me to trust myself when the heat was on. I believe God put you in my life at a moment I most needed to see the value of perseverance, loyalty, conviction, integrity and sacrifice to obtain a higher goal. Not just a championship, but a way to live life. It was an honor to learn from you. Thank you forever. Can you coach us when we all get to heaven? Dallas Dixon

Dementia sanctification

Dementia and Sanctification Pure supposition, but I like it. Sanctification is when God cleans you up step by step after you have accepted His or Her invitation to be a child of God. If you are not that interested in this concept, skip the more formal definitions below; Sanctifying: to make holy, set apart as sacred, to purify or free from sin. Sanctity is an ancient concept widespread among religions…progressively becoming like Jesus…sanctification is used as a post-reformation theological term to refer to the ongoing process of Christian growth…the original Greek word is often translated into English as “wash” or “cleanse” …. A position ( set apart for God by redemption) and or experience… being made holy by the work of the Holy Spirit. Christianity.stackexchange.com So, dementia- everybody and I mean everybody- says is different for everyone, but here’s what I think about mine. First, it was a little ironic that I spent my whole professional life flaunting my cognitive abilities – analysis, multitasking, huge hours, millions of quick decisions under pressure, defending myself against the world pridefully with my cognitive analyses, only to have the disease God has allowed, take away my pride in my thinking ability. That is not a tragedy, although it will cause much consternation in the transition from the OLD Dallas to the NEW. From a spiritual perspective, it’s one less sin to carry. Yeah! As a lawyer and teacher, my art was speaking, illustrating, advocacy, fast thinking and manipulation/lying. The second major dementia symptom has been to lose my ability to speak. Bottom line, there are no more arguments to win. Neither is that a tragedy. Gentleness seeps in. Competition, me first, outsmart you, defensively and offensively, is no longer possible. Speaking without thinking whether it pleases God is, is so much easier at a slower pace. A gift, not a tragedy. OK, ok, one more. I’m an Eagles fan. Bleeding green. I no longer can watch TV with the sound on. My TV addiction and sports addiction (loving them more than); relying on them for peace, not God is the next sin removed. Dementia is liberating. Who would have thunk it?

OPPRESSION

Oppression
Theoretical oppression seers the mind when it is considered historically and intellectually. When it is witnessed but not experienced, it infects our spirit with its own. When it is a personal reality – for a minute or a lifetime – its power, which is born of lies, evil and a cold disregard for anything hopeful, takes aim at our very essence – our soul. This is where the good and bad of our minds, hearts and spirits are whirled into our essence which starkly or subtly creates the boundaries of our identity. Oppression is one nasty spirit that wants to create wars globally and mobilize discouragement personally. The most ruthless strategy of oppression is not physical, although death is often its desire. Its power to – with a smile and a pat on the back – make you accept a lie, even a little bit, that who you know you are and that which you know you believe is not true – and it’s your fault that you ever thought otherwise. Your soul – your essence – seemingly fades away (it does not in reality – more lies). You are left with nausea, from head to toe, because you’ve been wrong all these years. You are disowned, without purpose. You cannot count on anything except a shifting reality of the oppressor which is tempting to latch on to you. When normal people argue with dementia people and win the argument by saying, “you can’t remember anyway”, its oppression. It’s a daytime assault on your being. When normal people define cognitive decline as you sort of aren’t worth their time, visit, or money – it’s oppression. When normal people talk to your partner about you in front of you, its oppression – I don’t care how minor or good intentioned. When no decision about us is met without a condescension, it is oppression. I am so sorry that it took dementia to understand, but thankful nevertheless. Oppression has enemies that can defang it more easily than its power would suggest. It can be healed in the soul by a spirit that is more powerful than oppression and its allies – mercy, grace, kindness, gentleness, peace, patience, faithfulness and self-control. The challenge is to meet oppression with these spirits and not with oppression’s sidekicks of violence, hatred, invective, jealousy, rage and fear.
Oppression – persecution, abuse, maltreatment, tyranny, despotism, subjection, subjugation…social, systematic, institutionalized or internalized.

Sara’s Chapter

Sara’s Chapter

I’m in Maine. I am looking out the window at the ocean and the sky. There is no sun or sparkling water. Today it’s just gray everywhere. Tomorrow will rain but next week the sun returns – guaranteed. It will lift our hearts and the gray will be a distant memory carrying no residue of worry or fear. As I think of your journey this evening, you are still exploring high school and getting to know yourself. Of the four of you – Ariel, Alia, Kayla and yourself – you might be the most sensitive of a group that majors in a bravado which covers and protects a well of sensitivity, tears and a desire to love deeply, fiercely and loyally. What an irreplaceable and invaluable gift that is. I love you all for that and I pray that none of you ever compromise, belittle it or allow anyone else to belittle it. I thank your mom for allowing me the gift of being your pretend dad in your earliest years. I thank you too, of course, but you were so delightfully **** and cute that the truth is you didn’t have much choice in trusting, a wee bit, the guy who played touch football with you and your sisters using an extra diaper. (yes, it was clean) as the football. I spanked you too as I’m sure you remember – out of love and concern, but you know that too. However, I now seek your forgiveness for my cardinal sin – you know what it was…taking away and losing your binky. I think that I took Alia’s away many years earlier as well but I’m not sure. I know a side of you that maybe some don’t know. If I am wrong and overreach here I’ll blame the dementia but I’ll give it a go. Number One – you have great vision into the desires of your own heart. When you were young and now, to some degree, it’s your affinity with the world of style and fashion that comes unadulterated and brightens your spirit as well as those around you when you dip into and use this talent and gift. Number Two – I think you are brave. There is bravery to be raised by your mom only – additional responsibility to be sure, the need to be mature before your time as well. Seeing what some fail to see because others are mean, not fair, or unforgiving and battling how to retain your values without having to change the whole world takes courage. Oh, you have your fears like the rest of us, but I believe your bravery will always surmount your trials and obstacles. I remember our Jesus magic shows where, at such a young age, you took the stage with your fat old uncle. If that’s not brave, nothing is. I don’t have to caution you that the world is, at times, a cold and unfriendly place. You know that you have a friend in me for a while, but a friend forever in your Creator that can bring a sunrise after gray days. Oh, God has plans for you young lady – plans to prosper you, not to harm you. If you search for Him with your entire heart, the promise God offers is that you will find the Creator in all His magnificence and he will teach you amazing, unimaginable things. This dementia will create distance between us as time wears on, but I will remember in my soul how kind and gentle you are – calling me for breakfast or dinner. Your commitment to do good is ingrained and a direct tribute to your dad, who had that same passion for doing right amid the doubters. My love for you is no less than my love for my own daughters. Amen (which means so be it). I hope you like your chapter.

Fred

Fred
He was a man handsome in his build. No sign of the paunch most men his age have by the time they reach his age of 75ish. White hair with only minimal receding, looking unkempt as if by the time he was ready to comb his hair, he had forgotten the task. His way of dressing reminded me of a man on the golf course with colors purposely a bit bold, but matching in a way that was familiar to this white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant. He, I ccame to know bit later, was an Episcopalian priest. He didn’t tell me that he was, I saw his picture in his shared room at the nursing home. He never really came out and agreed that he was when I saw the long white church garb with a band of colored cloth worn around his neck with the two ends loose in front decorated with a cross.
I brought him an Episcopalian prayer book. When I asked him questions about his church, he searched his drawer next to the bed and found a brochure answering frequently asked questions about his denomination. It felt like an act of kindness to me.
He needed help most of the time, getting to his room. His dementia had progressed to the point when he would be confused as to the purpose of his nimbly walking the hallways. He would get stuck, standing in the hallway, quite immobilized and unable to take the next step. “Walk with me, Fredrick”, and he would begin, happy and relieved to have a purpose again.
Early on in this four week adventure, he confided to me that he walks at night as well. He doesn’t always recognize his room and can walk unannounced into another person living with dementia’s room. This is usually followed by turbulence. He said, under his breath, while we were sharing a pizza, that I didn’t want to know all the goings on. His tome was salacious, but his intent was obscure. Was He enlisting my help? Did he want me to jump in and beg for details? Was he testing me and my comfort in talking about personal sexual matters? My dementia brain knew a play was being made, but I couldn’t move through which strategy I wished to respond, so I opted to just let it go.
The pinnacle of our relationship occurred one day when he was stuck again, looking pained as well as confused. He swung out one arm and made a dramatic noise that was sort of like ‘boka’. It wasn’t threatening so I copied him by doing my own ‘boka’ kicking out my arm. In then a Godly moment, we almost skipped up the hallway, like Dorothy and her friends on the yellow brick road. Only adding ninja moves along the way. It was an unmistakable bubble of joy as we strutted our stuff. We were in the moment as they say.
The following Sunday I went to church services there at the rehabilitation center. Rehabilitation really was a misnomer because many of the folks were in different stages of dementia. None of them lacking a sense of humor. When we first met, Fred asked me to call him Fredrick, not Fred which sort of belied our relationship. It was one of friendship but skewed in the fog of discernment which we both traveled. 
The day I visited with my daughter, Fred asked to speak with me privately as he needed to tell me something. He said in a whisper that was louder than a whisper, that he liked young boys and did I have a son. I tried the strategy of ignoring that remark and moved to introduce him to my daughter. He followed, whispering in a real whisper that I shouldn’t tell her what we had just talked about.
Days later I walked him back to his room that had a big sign with his name on it. He asked me to sit on his roommate’s bed, who was nowhere to be found, and he suddenly went to his knees and raised his hands in supplication to God. I didn’t understand any of his words but I hope he made peace with God.
Yesterday, I went to work and the Fred’s name was no longer on his door. His bed had been stripped. The priestly books and pictures cleared out. My buddy, Mr. Black said he didn’t like to talk about it, but the police took him away. No one spoke of it. I didn’t inquire of the head nurse, I believed Mr. Black.
I don’t know why God put Fred in my life. He was nicer than Fredrick the priest. I hoped he confessed to God the sore in his soul. May we do the same? I list child predators as folks I detest in my prayer journal. I fight to pray for them rather than hang the vestments of hatred around his neck. Like the most righteous person- how about Mother Teresa, you, me and Fred are all just folks who have done bad stuff and need forgiveness. 
I can’t imagine how the criminal justice system will manage this. Fred is vulnerable in his dementia state and how that will enter into his crime is yet to be seen. May we pray for his forgiveness and justice for his victims.
  

Dear God from me.

Dear God, From Me
Dear God,
I feel badly that my relationship with you has been sometimes from a distance. Perhaps I keep part of my life at a distance from you all the time. But, you know this and will receive this letter nonetheless. I was in church on Sunday and the pastor said that he wasn’t looking forward to death. He shook his head and looked down. He just wasn’t looking forward to it. Oh, but I am. Death seems to be so underrated. I am thankful for the life you have given me, the lessons you have taught me, even the discipline you gave me. Running Emily Fisher for fourteen years was the best job anyone could ever have. It was not only the best job, it was the best life—a limitless wife, children, family. And, a left handed three point shot last year. So thankful am I, but I can’t wait to go to work for you in heaven. They say all the time that it was his time to die or conversely, it wasn’t his time to die. What do those things mean? It’s a backhanded acknowledgment that there is a God, right? I mean, who sets the clock on life? If all of this—this existence and universe—is just a random batch of molecules, what does this sort of timing mean, what could it mean? If you and I concede that someone sets the clock, does this someone (whatever version of a higher power you believe in) do it individually for each of us? Yes, you and I might say. Is there some algorithm, some scientific correlation of data and genetic material and environmental influences collected progressively until some red light blinks off? Does the clock setter have no sense of timing? Of romance? I just want to tell you, my God does. I need her to. My spirit cries out for him to. Every sunset speaks to me. Every child’s breath is a resounding chorus. Every small miracle that we chalk up to coincidence or luck or our own intellect is God patiently whispering. I’m the one who made your daughter’s toothache disappear, found you a loving wife, made your mailwoman a graduate of Emily Fisher Charter School so every day would sparkle a little. I can’t wait to see you in heaven, God, at full bloom. I think I will fall to my knees in tears and in thankfulness. I remember all so well that you haven’t welcomed me because of anything I have done, but despite everything that I have. See you, when you are ready. Maybe death is for us when you have finished with us on Earth, when we have discarded as much pride and sin as we have been able to in the process. Life is great. Death is greater. No matter how or when I get there. Joyful, prayerful, thankful, no matter what, waiting on your, my God!