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.