23: Looking Death in the Eye

A photo of Ken and Patti

We knew this story would be different. Honestly, we didn’t look forward to it. Pausing to pray, we felt the weight of the story to be shared. This conversation would stare death straight in the eye. And yet, somehow we ended up with opportunities to laugh together with Ken and Patty as they shared part three of their personal story.

We arrived prayed again with these sweet friends. There’s no such thing as too much prayer. Ken and Patti see this as likely to be the final podcast they will do together. The doctors estimate that Ken may have less than 12 months before the ALS takes his life. This crippling disease has already taken some of his speaking ability. You’ll especially hear it if you compare this with their stories in podcasts #9 and 16.

So, take a deep breath with us as we settle in at their dining room table together. Listen carefully. Catch the clicking of the dogs’ toenails on the wood floor, along with their occasional tired whimpers. The sound of birds chirping and trucks outside the open window are reminders that life goes on around Ken and Patti as they are left to experience what most of us hope to never have to – knowledge of death being just around the corner.

The calmness in their voices reveals some of the resolution they’ve worked through. Always asking God for a miracle, but coming more and more to peace with the strong possibility that Ken will be relinquishing his earthly life much sooner than any of us would choose.

There’s a tension in balancing this remaining hope with accepting what appears to be reality. That uncomfortable tension is revealed as Patti unconsciously clicks the cover of the ipad in front of her. If you pay attention, you’ll hear that clicking throughout the recording, almost like the clock ticking away on Ken’s life.

Entering into the intimacy of Ken and Patti’s world right now may feel uncomfortable. Our culture tries to sanitize life from the reality of death. But you get a sense that as death draws closer, it actually has less hold over Ken. He wonders aloud with us which season would be best to die in. As a matter of discussion he grapples with not wanting to be buried in winter when the hard ground would make it difficult to dig a grave. Ken says he doesn’t want people to have to stand outside in bad weather. As we spoke together, there’s a sense that he’s looking death straight in the eye. Yet we know Ken would say this isn’t about personal bravery. It’s God at work, walking him down this difficult path toward death.

It’s a privilege to be invited into the unpleasant beauty Ken and Patti live in as life and death are intermingled in front of them. Pray with us for these friends and others around you who face death so imminently. We continue to pray for healing, but even more we pray for God’s supernatural peace and intervention for the journey ahead. And we’re praying we would live life more fully in however many or few days we have.

Media Credits
Theme Music: Sons of Avi
Dramatic Sounds: SoundWiz and ZingDog via Pond5.com and Accoustic Guitar: UncleSigmund on Freesound.org