Yesterday we had the honor of having Dr. Stanley Hauerwas visit our neighboring Divinity School. As a fan of his work I was relieved when my professor of counseling so graciously ended our class early so that the handful of us in the Divinity School could attend without penalty or missing any of his lecture.
The topic of Dr. Hauerwas’ lecture last night was modern medicine and the Christian community – namely, that we must shun the notion that the task of the physician is to promote life as long as possible by any means necessary. It was, as all of his arguments are, challenging and complex and I would do it no small injustice to try to fully explain it here. The thing I like a great deal about Hauerwas is this (and this is true of all of the great Theologians/ethicists) — they challenge, yes, but they also offer a note of affirmation. We left Butler Chapel with a glimpse of where we needed to go and a clearer sense of who we were; of what that meant and what that could mean.
I needed that affirmation and a Christian view on finitude as well, because five minutes after walking out of those beautiful glass-paned doors my heart would break.
I went through the motions just as I always do: I put my bag in the trunk, turned the heat on, and as I was putting my seatbelt saw my phone in the console lit up alerting me that I had missed in excess of 10 calls. Though my family tends to call me quite a lot (in rapid succession) this was alarming. My heart was in my throat as I called my mom to find out what was wrong, although I already had an idea.
My grandma was in fact in the hospital due to acute renal failure and because she could no longer stand without assistance. Though she is living with an aunt in VA she will have to have Hospice care from this point onward.
I am grieving, of course. I have known for a while that my grandma may not be with me here in this life for much longer, something that was painfully affirmed by her physicians yesterday. I am so thankful for the 30 years that I have been given with her; so much more than is given to most. Most of all, I realize that I only feel such pain at her impending loss because we had so many experiences where love abounded between we two, so ultimately even for this I should be thankful. I’ll get there, but for now my heart is a bit broken.