A cartoon on a hospice bulletin board pictures a sleek Cadillac hearse, a mahogany casket with the remains of the deceased; attached to the hearse is a U-Haul truck. Miles of cars, with headlights illumined, wait for the start of the procession to the cemetery. The truth of this hits hard.

Like it or not, death stalks us from the moment we take our first breath, but within this dark presence is another, numinous in nature, that affords protection and guidance during this earthly life. With increasing consciousness we recognize this titan struggle within us. And with aging, this conflict assumes even greater proportions.

Watching a loved one move through such a conflict is sobering. Few do it with grace. Instincts trammel the weakened ego, answerless questions hound the intellect, and helpless fury rages out of control. Yet, the dismemberment continues, unabated until the last breath.

Why this holding onto this scrap of life? Why this pummeling? Why this fierce contest some engage in? For what purpose?

The prophet, Isaiah, speaks of purification – “Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in a furnace of affliction.” (48:10)

The imprint of my brother’s passing lingers … He is finally in the Light.

His name was John …