Facing Mortality.

Tombstone Courage is what my training officer called it, years ago. He was describing how an officer would put themselves into a dangerous situation unnecessarily. It might always work out in your favor, but in that one instant where it didn’t……might be your last.

My wife said I had a death wish based upon the stories and adventures I told her about over the years.

I didn’t have any more courage than the next person. I think my problem was that I didn’t figure the danger aspect into the equation like most folks would. I call it a problem, because it isn’t a healthy way to think. Children and teenagers are famous for having a “bullet proof” attitude. Fortunately, most of them outgrow the tendancy and begin to understand their own mortality. The fact that they could, indeed, die or get injured.

Anyone who knows me or has read many of my posts will realize that I have had a tendancy to disregard the possible negative outcomes of my actions. I always knew there was a possibility of getting hurt, but chose to ignore it.

Over the years I have ignored my own vulnerability. Most of the time the conversation was about a situation which I had a certain amount of control over. Recently, though, I had to consider that I might not have control.

I told my wife last night that for the first time in my life I had been forced to face my own mortality and…..

It scared me.

During my battle with Covid-19, my oxygen sats had gotten very low. My wife kept telling me that it was time to go to the hospital.

I resisted and we ended up having a bit of an argument about whether I should go to the hospital. I kept saying “just wait a bit longer” and she kept telling me that I was not being smart about things.

She was right.

However, she also had Covid. Her case wasn’t as bad as mine and didn’t last as long, but she was seriously sick. As a consequence, we were both quarantined.

The hospital I needed to go to was in another town. We talked about how she would have to drop me off at the hospital door, because they wouldn’t let her inside with Covid. I would have to go into the emergency room and explain to strangers that I had Covid. They would have kept me in isolation to protect others.

It occurred to me that if this kept getting worse that I would be isolated by myself. I would only have minimal contact with complete strangers. Worse yet, if I died, it would be alone. There would be no family or friends to give words of encouragement or to hold your hand. There would be medical staff in protective gear. Strangers.

Suddenly, in the midst of coughing and wheezing I was forced to look at death. For me it looked like a lonely and cold death. A death that looked bleak and scary. I felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff and knowing that there was no one to hold onto me and keep me from falling.

It scared me.

I realized that death might be the place where all this ended up. I suddenly became aware of my own mortality and I didn’t want to face it alone.

So I resisted going to the hospital. Please don’t misunderstand me. I should have gone to the hospital. I know that they would have treated me well. I know they would have done their very best to help me. However…

It scared me.

I couldn’t handle the idea of being so very sick, in a strange place, and being alone. In fact the hospital was in a different town which lent itself to the idea of distance from loved ones.

I was very lucky that I survived. I think of all those thousands of people who went into the hospital and were quarantined. Many died and many survived. Sadly, they had to endure it while cut off from most or all of their family and friends.

I have a fear of being left. I’ve had it for as long as I can remember. It has affected many aspects of my life. The idea of abandonment. The thought of turning around and suddenly, to my horror, realizing that I had been left.

To me the idea of being in that hospital alone terrified me. The idea that death might find me in that hospital made me realize that I was mortal. I was forced to realize that my life may be about to end and that it might be a lonely death.

I was so very lucky. So many folks don’t have the outcome I had. I probably should have gone to the hospital, but I couldn’t bear the idea of walking through that door alone as my wife drove away.

I am one of those followers of the one called Christ. I like to think about the poem called “Footprints” which so many people have framed and hanging on a wall in their home.

The last paragraph….”The Lord replied, “My dear child. The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, that is when I carried You.”

I know that I wasn’t really alone. Like I said, being alone or abandoned is my hang-up, not the Lord’s. It was my faith, that was weak.

I will say this for those who are worried about how things are being handled, generally. If you wear a mask, you can still hug your wife or husband, son or daughter, or anyone close to you. Wearing a mask may allow you or someone close to you the ability to sleep in their own bed tonight. Wearing a mask helps give you the freedom to go where you want and when you want.

The alternative may be that you are in a strange hospital, in a strange town, surrounded by strangers. You may have to face your own mortality, the coming of death, alone.

I am a weak mortal, so I wasn’t able to say “don’t worry, the Lord’s got this.” While the Lord may have had things under control, I was still my weak mortal self…

It scared me.


Published by John Purvis

I was born and raised in Kansas as part of a family of 7 children. My father was a minister in the United Methodist Church for 50 years. We moved, consequently, every few years to a new church. Each new location became a new chapter in the journey. I have had the privilege of knowing so many different people from varying backgrounds. I wanted to share some of the stories and adventures I have had.

29 thoughts on “Facing Mortality.

  1. I’m so glad you and your wife are OK!!!
    This was a timely post for me to read today. I am isolated in our bedroom, and my husband and I are trying to decide if I should go get tested. I would call my ailment “bronchitis,” and I’ve had it before, just not since the Covid thing started. In the early days of the pandemic, I had one bout of fear, in the middle of the night, for about ten minutes. The thought of dying THAT way was scary, but as far as leaving this world, I am confident I am not going anywhere until the Lord is ready to call me home – and I’m not staying a moment longer. Meanwhile I’ve been compliant, wearing my face mask that says “FAITH OVER FEAR.” 😉 The quarantines, “shelter at home,” lockdowns, what ever they are, have given me more time to spend with Jesus, and I’m at peace – as long as I don’t spend much time on social media!
    You two take care, and don’t forget to indulge in the healthy habits of laughter, music (dancing?), and hugs. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind wishes. You be sure to take care of yourself. This stuff can get bad so fast. My prayers are with you. John

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! You really went through it! So glad to hear you made it through and are doing well. I can see how the fear would build up and the thought of being alone could keep you at home! Thanks for sharing this with is.
    dwight

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad you made it through… although, because you wrote in first-person, I was pretty sure you did. If I were you, I’d continue to keep track of any residual problems that might come up: Lungs, kidneys, etc…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is good advice. There is a distance between being let off quarantine and actually feeling “good”. Thanks for the kind words. John

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope so too. The last I read was you get at least 90 days and then for some it starts to wear off. I hope that isn’t true for everyone. Thanks for visiting. John

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great insight on fear of your own mortality.

    Are you well now? I pray you and Andrea are over it completely.

    Take care and keep writing, I look forward to your messages.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Linda. I was released on Thursday. Andrea was out for 2 weeks and I was out for 5. I think its because she’s better looking than me. Thanks for your concern and support!

      Like

  5. Realizing you could die is a scary thing. I am glad you pulled through. My daughter and grandson both had it and neither one went to the hospital either. I think there are probably a lot of people sick that we don’t even know about. That’s scary too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad your family didn’t end up in the hospital. I think you’re right that there are many sick we don’t know about. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. John

      Liked by 1 person

  6. As you sometimes read my blog posts, you know that my husband died this last spring. He died of cancer that came on within about two months. Very quickly. But the timing of it was right around the time that COVID was making headline news. He was in the hospital, and I couldn’t get to him. The doctors knew they could do nothing more and so they allowed him to come home to me. Thankfully, we were able to be together at the end of his life. I understand your fear of dying alone. Fear is often irrational — but The Lord of Life held you. I am thankful that both you and your wife are mending and can be home together. Thanks be to God!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’m glad that you were able to be with your husband. God is always there, I lose sight of that sometimes. Thank you for sharing your experience. It helps me through this.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. So impactful John. I have become a recluse since March. My greatest fear is dying alone with Covid. Thank you for your honesty and reassurance. We are so fortunate to have you in our co.munity.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m finding that it is a bit of a journey. I still have the symptoms, it’s just that the fever is now low and intermittent. The Health Department says that’s good enough to move me to the recovered category. I don’t feel cured. I’m happy it went well compared to others. I’m very blessed.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Oh my! This post really touched me. I am SO glad you are still with us. But I would have done the same as you. I shivered as I read your pist, as I too have a fear of abandonment. I too almost died when I had my cancer. And I know that my faith wasnkind of subdues some ofbthe time. Yet also I know that it was truly Christ Who brought me through. Get really well soon John. Take real goid care of yourself. Cwe want you to stay with us, god bless you, and my orayers for you and your wife xx

    Liked by 3 people

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