Saturday, October 11, 2008


Have had a chest cold for about a week now. I'm ready, no, past ready for it to be gone. Breathing as I ought, without coughing every two or three minutes is far preferable to the current state of being. Some things have come to mind as I cough and grumble:

My demand not to be suffering in the body. Period. I'm tired of navigating life as one who is physically challenged. As soon as those pixels form on the page, I am chastened to recall what gifts I have; not just in the abilities I retain, but the gift of impaired ability, the gift of suffering.

I went to the memorial service yesterday of a dear cousin whose body succumbed to cancer. The ravaging malignant tumors gradually took her life at least in part. But her true life is now complete, she enjoys the fullness for which she was made and is raucously celebrating with her siblings, family and friends as she worships her king.

Yesterday's service also prompted the memory of another death. Keith Searcy. He was the young adult son of a co-worker. Before I became aware of the work connection, I knew Keith from Easter Seal camp. Keith was, like me, deprived of oxygen at birth. Unlike me, cerebral palsy severely limited his mobility; but not his verve. He was a talker, an irreverent schemer and pranking young man when I met him nearly thirty years ago. He did walk, but he swaggered awkwardly, throwing himself from side to side-cerebral palsy had caused a rigor mortis like stiffness in his limbs. His hands and arms were affected too, as well as his speech. Keith was not handsome, nor someone to whom most would be drawn. He was, at times, loud, over-bearing and attention seeking. But he had this intense gusto for life even in the throes of severe disability. At summer camp, I found myself interacting with him often; his life had great impact on mine, yet it was his death that changed me for eternity. On the day before his burial, I went with some co-workers to be of comfort to his mother, our friend. I'd seen Keith every now and then since Easter Seal camp, but I was not prepared for what I saw as he lay in the open casket. His body, once fraught with tension, was now at rest. No sign of the constant fury evident in his living body remained. I stood with his mother beside the coffin, and held her hand. We never uttered a word. What was so plain to me must have been exponentially true for her. We were not looking at Keith, but a mere tent that had, for a time, housed his essence. Keith, like my cousin, laughed last because of Jesus' triumph over death.

Those are my ruminations as result of this blasted cough. St. Paul penned some letters on the topic of suffering. I encourage you to read 2 Corinthians 4: 7-18; 2 Corinthians 5: 1-4 and Romans 8:18-25.

Blessings on your day.


Catfisher said...

It's been a day of rest, yet a frustrating one because there are many tasks needing to be done...After reading William's comment about his friend Keith- calm, peaceful, and seemingly relaxed for the first time in his life, not fighting against his body - an image of surrender which gratefully put into perspective the challenges in my life.

With gratitude,

Catherine Kingfisher

Wallace Mercer said...

Catfisher, your words yesterday about 'surrender' also came to mind as I remembered Keith's peace.