Why do you worry? Consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. They do not worry.
All my life I’ve been waiting. Waiting to start kindergarten. Waiting to turn 16, 21, 65. (I wasn’t waiting to turn 75.)
Waiting to go to high school, for the results of the SAT, to hear from the admissions office. Waiting to graduate, get hired, get married.
Waiting for the birth of our children. Waiting for them to get out of diapers, sleep through the night, go to school, graduate, get married. Waiting for grandchildren.
Waiting to retire.
You’re as fit as a fiddle, says my new doctor. I can’t believe you take no medications at your age. But let’s get you a blood test, an EKG, and ultrasound just to have a baseline for future reference.
Waiting for results.
The cardiologist confirms atrial fibrillation. He’s a bit surprised since I have no symptoms. It’s a silent killer, he tells me. Your risk of stroke is higher than those without a-fib. There’s no cure. Take a blood thinner. You might need more radical interventions later. We’ll wait and see.
Suddenly there’s this tiny dark cloud in my otherwise blue sky. I’m waiting to die, I think. But I know that’s no way to live. I consider my dog Lucy. She’s dying, nearly dead. But she’s not waiting to die.
I wrote Lucy’s eulogy last February (The Eternal Now). The vet had done a blood test and detected renal failure. No cure. We all thought she’d die within a few weeks.
But Paula nursed her along with a special diet, tenderly feeding her by hand. For the past seven months Lucy has bounced along our nature trail with me every morning and bounded up and down the deck steps every evening, chasing her squeaky ball that Paula tossed into the yard.
And then she ground to a halt. No appetite. No bounce. Interminable slumbers.
I reluctantly still say, “mail time” every afternoon. She pushes herself up—somehow—staggers down the steps and up the driveway to the mailbox, wagging her tail.
Lucy’s not waiting to die. She can’t. Lucy can’t imagine (or dread) the future. She only knows now. She’s like the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. She’s fully in this moment. Fully grateful.
At least that’s what her wagging tail seems to say.