Carmel, our beloved Boxer….Belle, our neighbor’s Black Lab….and Brittany Maynard, a 29 year old newlywed….all three had, or plan soon to have, an untimely death.
Carmel was one of those “best dogs ever.” He was devoted to our family, until a brain tumor took him down. Belle, another faithful family pet, was diagnosed with cancer this year. Both dogs were put down by caring Veterinarians, Carmel twelve years ago, and Belle just today.
The doctors that delivered death-inducing drugs to the dogs were providing a compassionate service to our families. In the case of Carmel, the untimely death occurred on our front porch. My husband and I held him in our arms as he died, leaving us shocked at the instantaneous loss of our pet. We buried our dog’s body, and then proceeded to grieve for months. Though physically weak at the end of life, our pet was very much alive, until the deadly chemical entered his veins. Untimely death is harsh and terrible, but understood to be a choice for animals in need.
The third untimely death, soon scheduled to occur, is that of Brittany Maynard. Recently diagnosed with terminal, stage four brain cancer, Brittany is planning for her own death on November 1st…this Saturday. Her body is failing fast, and physical death is imminent. Brittany may not realize that she is much more than a dying body, she is made in the image of God, with a spirit that has eternal value. The separation of this suffering woman’s body and spirit should not be hastened by lethal chemicals. Every second she has left here on earth is a gift from her Creator.
Years ago I watched a Public Television special on physician assisted suicide, which has since been incorporated into a documentary called, “How to Die in Oregon.” Film makers recorded the death of a terminally ill woman, Cody Curtis. Like Brittany Maynard, Cody wanted to be prepared for her final moments. Family members ate a meal together at her home, she then said good bye to each individually, and as the evening closed she directed the administration of the deadly combination of drugs, which stopped her heart and ended her physical life. It seemed like such a peaceful plan. But it was not peaceful!
The active filming stopped at the close of the goodbyes. Only the audio was recorded after that. A fixed camera shot from the street focused on the dimly lit bedroom window, where the soon to be deceased was resting. When the time came, the chemical-death was immediate! And like a dog’s untimely passing on a front porch, death was harsh, and real, and very ugly!
Death has touched my family many times. Six years ago a good friend died of brain cancer. His last days were filled with pain and confusion. But he held out until his Creator called. All who knew Cliff would testify that he was a brave Marine, right to his last breath.
This morning I attended the funeral of Sally Hartung. Many friends and family members shared of her brave struggle to live hopeful, even with Multiple Sclerosis. Especially impressive was Sally’s trust that God would “rescue her when the time was right.” God was faithful, after allowing four decades of MS to cripple her body, He carried her to an eternal heavenly home.
When we consider death, it should be apparent that there is a world of difference between an animal and a human. Animals may be killed. But humans should wait for their Creator to rescue them.
I find it so very sad that Brittany Maynard may intentionally end her life this Saturday. She must not know her Creator, for if she did, surely she would know that God has numbered her days, and promised to walk with her through this time of suffering, ultimately and mercifully rescuing her, when the time is right.
“Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.” (Revelation 14:12/ESV)
The purpose of this blog is to encourage Christ-followers to see God’s Big Picture and be a part of it.