Departure (a memoir)

Chronicling the final three weeks of a lifelong friend, Departure presents a touching and genuine reflection of the fundamental issues of life, faith, physical death, and spiritual peace. "Reality is about four inches wide," the dying friend observes in an unflinchingly honest moment. "Trying to deal with truth is like trying to pick up a broken mirror. It’s not possible to reason the truth."

When my lifelong friend, Chuck, was told he had but a few months to live, he and I were pretty much on the telephone every day. Having no computer and no longer having the strength to type, he was unable to record his own final thoughts.

The problem, of course, was that Chuck and I were unable to visit in person. Penniless, Chuck had gone home to live with his mother in West Plains, Missouri. I was 500 miles away in a northwestern Chicago suburb. So we spoke by telephone.

One day, my wife, Heather, came up with a brilliant idea: why not give Chuck a voice by setting up a daily blog? A week later a daily journal was launched. It was called "Ask a Dying Man ~ A Daily Q and A with Chuck." Featuring questions and answers in dialogue format, the blog began to gather a following after I started posting a link each night on my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Soon it became enormously popular, drawing readers from around the world.

Each day, I would ask him a series of questions and let him take the conversation where he wanted it to go. I served as narrator, adding my own observations as needed. However, for the most part, I asked and he answered. The moment we began, I soon realized that nothing Chuck was to say from that moment on would be sugar-coated.

One day, Chuck was hospitalized. The following day he was transferred to a nursing home where his condition worsened. Though his constant pain and discomfort became his earthly reality, Chuck had begun realizing a greater, spiritual reality. His short-term suffering was defeated by his long-term, spiritual peace.

Chuck's deep faith in God as revealed in the Bible had come to define his thinking, his outlook, and the message he proclaimed in this, the final chapter of his life.

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© Brad Keena