Best Spiritual Health, Dying

Sixteen years ago on November 18, 2002, our son, our brother, our friend, Michael Funk, died of metastatic melanoma at age 26. Mike said that he wasn’t born with a tattoo on his butt telling him how long he had to live.  What a gift.  Mike was a gift. His perspective about dying was a gift. One day we were sitting at the kitchen table talking about dying and superpowers. Mike thought that he and I had the same superpower: we both accept what is. Yup, he died young. That’s life. You open your heart and tragedy just walks right in. What’s the alternative? Closed heart? Not for me.

Welcome, my dear Health Hats blog readers, let me introduce you to the birth of Health Hats, the Podcast. We are here to empower people as they travel together toward best health. Best health includes physical, mental, and spiritual health. Today’s blog post and podcast are about Mike who found his best spiritual health over the last year of his life, as he died.

I decided that my inaugural podcast should be about Mike. The timing is right and my heart is full and open. I’m taking a Seth Godin course about podcasting. This fellowship, this learning community, has given me strength and tools. On my 50th birthday party at the Potato Barn in Schoharie County, NY, my boss, colleague, and friend, Bob Doherty interviewed Mike.  It was five months before he died. That video is a treasure. The pressure in my stomach and chest threatened to leak out through my eyes as I listened to every sound and silence. Can I really do this? I must be nuts. But remembering the roller coaster ride of humor, wisdom, misery, love made it possible, no, necessary to go on. That first night after deciding on this subject for this first podcast, I couldn’t sleep from bursting with emotion, I recorded all the stories I could remember about Mike and his dying. The next morning I called Bob and we talked about his perceptions of those days – interviewing Mike, me at work, and the spiritual health Mike had. We spoke about the death of Bob’s wife who died a couple of years later. This podcast blends all that.

Here’s an excerpt of the poem Mike wrote shortly before his death that I read on the podcast.

the way I become about dying

I am not things.

I am sums of things,

guessing that I’m part of God

wondering if there is some place where my soul will go

from where I might look down

with advantages my eyes did not have

and see the tops of trees

which I used to walk beneath for

shelter from rain and sun,

and see the things go together

like continental tracks of land

 

I am this very moment, dying

from headache tumors that

erase my cognitive ability so that I might

be retarded when I wake up tomorrow,

or I might know answers,

or I might still be guessing

 

Links

Mike Funk Podcast HHP001

Interview with Mike

Interview with Bob

Full poem of Mike’s

Note: I have applied for listing on iTunes, Stitcher, Google, and more. As of Nov 18, 2018, 08:30, these aren’t live. But they will be in a few days. I will podcast at least twice a month. Please subscribe.

Danny van Leeuwen

About Danny van Leeuwen

Patient/Caregiver activist empowering people as they travel toward best health

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