Hers was a slow death—about ten years to be exact.
Alzheimer’s attacked my maternal grandmother long before she took her final breath, but it signaled the beginning of the end. At first, she was just forgetful. We assumed it was the effects of age. Then it became more pronounced. By the time it ran its course, she no longer remembered her family’s names, couldn’t drive, and couldn’t stay by herself.
In the final stages, even her children couldn’t care for her and had to place her in an assisted living facility. But the shock of being away from home took its toll. Congestive heart failure set in, and she was placed in the hospital. After leaving for a bite to eat and returning, my parents were greeted by a nurse whose eyes told the story. She was gone.
As he led his sheep from pasture to pasture, David walked through valleys littered with predators and robbers. But he didn’t fear them or the fact they might take his life. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me” (Psalm 23:4 KJV).
Death is a normal part of life. We can’t prevent it; at the most, we can only prolong it. I feared it as a youngster, defied it as a teenager, and pondered it at midlife. I now accept its inevitability. While I don’t welcome it, I do what follows.
Only life lived in a faith connection with God prepares us for death and eternity and helps us enjoy living without fear in the present. When our last breath is taken—whether by tragedy, a criminal act, a deadly disease, or by simply closing our eyes—God takes the hand of his children and ushers them into his beautiful eternity.
Are you ready for the valley of death?
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.