When Death Comes Knocking

Posted on October 26th, 2007 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

Don’t misunderstand this post, I am not trying to be pessimistic. There are, however, a few things in reality that happen when you get news of a poor prognosis. For some, death doesn’t bother knocking, it just barges in the door unexpected and unwelcome. For others, something like a cancer diagnosis can become like a knocking on the door. You get the warning, but the guest is still unwelcome. Death is the kind of guest that if you see it coming down the driveway, you lock the door and hide behind the couch, hoping it will think you are not home. At this stage, I feel like I am continuing on with my day, not hiding behind the couch, just walking around the house with music playing on the stereo. If I need to go out, I am using the front door, kindly excusing myself as I walk past the unwelcome guest. When the sound of the knock first came though, there were a few thoughts that came into my mind.

One of the first things that I started to think about, funnily enough, or not funnily enough, was considering who would be my pall bearers. I think this is because I feel surrounded by an incredible brotherhood that have looked after me as their own flesh and blood. This bond is strong, so I am not surprised that it was one of my first thoughts. Supported in life, supported in death.

The knock for me heightened my awareness of grief. It is ironic that one is not able to fully mourn their own death. Once you are dead, your ability to mourn has been taken away. This is not to say that grief does not take place now though, and for various reasons. The first of which would be through empathising with my wife, family and friends at their loss. I cried many times thinking of their grief if things didn’t work out for me. It crushes me thinking of the grief that they would go through, and although I don’t dwell on it, I would be lying if I said that it was not a real part of my thinking.

The knock also brought on a grief of another kind. At the time of diagnosis, I had already experienced loss. I had lost my mobility, my independence in getting from place to place, my pain free body and a relatively carefree approach to my future. After my original diagnosis, we were looking at a week before I would start chemotherapy. I thought during that week, “This could be the last week that I have my mobility, ever.” You would think that I would be out and about, making the most of the ability that I had. I should have been walking through parks, smelling roses, running in slow motion along the beach. But I didn’t. Instead, I found myself watching crud daytime TV shows, pottering around the house, and doing everything but ‘seizing the day’. This is not everyone’s experience, but it was mine. It may be understandable considering the shock and grief, but it was not the way I would have expected to respond.

The knock made me more aware of others that had been in this same situation. Knowing that I was still at the beginning of this journey, I thought more of others who had dealt with what we were now facing and how they appeared so composed and real in the light of dealing with issues that can seem quite surreal. I have to say, there is a difference between filling in a will when you are healthy to when you fill in one after a poor prognosis.

So at the moment, I think that death knocking has subsided for a time. You may be thinking that talking about death in this way has a pessimistic outlook. If it is, excuse me for not joining you in this. I have every reason to be optimistic, but every reason to be realistic also. There is a fine line between denial and being optimistic. I could state that I am not going to die and some may say I am being optimistic. But I am not going to walk around declaring that death is not a possibility. Death is, in fact, guaranteed for all of us at some point on our life continuum (usually towards the end). I believe, however, that I won’t be beaten by death as this is a promise my creator has made. This is not to be confused with the possibility that I may be taken “before my time”. Optimism can be applied to God’s promise that death has been beaten, that we all may live long and happy lives, that poverty will vanish, and that I will be able to buy a Ferrari. However, only one of these is guaranteed.

My preparation for death does not mean I am opening the door and inviting death to take a seat. I am hoping for a long life and I am looking forward to everything I was looking forward to before, only now it is with more intensity. When I hear the knocking again, I am not expecting to hide behind the couch. But I am not promising that I won’t be turning the stereo up a tad.



Comment on October 27th, 2007.

Beautifully put. Funny thing talking about pall-bearers… of course, some of us will need more of them than others!! :)
I think I get what you’re talking about, without having experienced it. I think I thought about similar things when my kids were 1st born, knowning that the death of their father (untimely as it may have been) would now have a much different context than the death of a husband and previously, just the death of a son. Now that I’m all 3, (son, husband, father) it seems to matter more when death happens, but also how I handle it if I get to hear ‘the knock’ as opposed to the surprise visit on a freeway somewhere.

I’m impressed that you can be both realistic and optimistic together.

It’s nice. Unusual.. I like it…

Liza & Brett

Comment on October 28th, 2007.

Cam & Libby just to let you know we are always thinking of you and hoping everything works out well. We want to see you very healthy and happy when we go back in Feb.

Passmore Family

Comment on October 29th, 2007.

We have only just heard about your illness and wanted to let you know that we are thinking of you. I have now watched some of your videos and read some of the articles and am not in the least bit surprised at the level of honesty, humour, humility and intelligence displayed. After all, these are all characteristics that you used when teaching David as part of your Inspire Education classes last year.

We are so glad that you have such a strong support network and I am sure that this site is helping those people as much as it is helping you. It may well help others who are struggling through illnesses as well, well done for in your openness, you continue to help others.

Warmest wishes from the Passmore Family

Liza & Brett

Comment on October 29th, 2007.

Hi Cam, think it is amazing the way you are sharing so much of your experiences through this medium. I have always believed that death is as natural as birth, and should be celebrated with the same rigir, however facing mortatlity cannot be easy and I take my hat off to your efforts to come to grips with all of this. Please know that Liza and I are thinking of you and Libby and want to accompany you both through this journey. I hope that this coming week brings plenty of good news, thought i would add a song for ya, if you haven´t heard of Jose Gonzalez, i think he will be your style. Take care. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4_4abCWw-w


Comment on October 30th, 2007.

As internet savvy as I am, my first message was deleted (I think). So I’ll make this one short incase my laptop really hates me!! News travels fast and of course camp’s favorite aussie gets everyone reading blogs! Lots of love and prayers are coming your way so you better get ready, y’all! We are thinking in about you in the Carolina’s! You are an inspiration to us all.

Joy St. James Barber

Comment on October 30th, 2007.

Hi Cam-I was shocked and saddened to get the email from Kelley telling me about the cancer. Let’s be honest, it wasn’t news I was expecting to hear. From the first day I met you, over 12 years ago now at good ol’ Camp Greenville, you brought a smile to my face. Somehow in the darkness of your situation, you have managed to show honesty, candor, insight and inspiration, and even made me crack a smile in watching your videos (thru tears, of course!). My heart and prayers go out to you, your family, and friends. Thank goodness for that support group. I’ll be thinking of you…

Keith and Christine

Comment on October 30th, 2007.

Dear Cam and Liz-Just wanted to say we are still praying for you and thank you for your regular updates. I guess there’s nothing we can say other than that we love you both and know that our God loves you most! We hope very much to be able to see you at the end of March when we’re in Perth for a week, but hope to speak to you before then.Love to you from a cold but bright and sunny Mottingham!

Trevor and Avril

Comment on October 31st, 2007.

We have been and will continue to pray for you, that each day you will find strength and even some excitment as you enjoy what the Lord has planned for you. Every day is special in some way,even if we happen to feel rotten.

Kaleb Smith

Comment on November 4th, 2007.

1 Corinthians 15
50I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[g]
55″Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”[h] 56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Kaleb Smith

Comment on November 4th, 2007.

I hope you don’t mind me Taking the Liberty to post this
( If it works!)
The Most Inspiring Skit I’ve seen:

Everything – Lifehouse

Terry Myers

Comment on November 4th, 2007.

Awesome stuff Cam! Take care my friend.

Humour in Death Man

Comment on November 5th, 2007.

Based on the number of commenters and supporters, the pall bearing duties may need to be a tag team event!


Comment on July 27th, 2012.

was a comfort to read this, its as if i wrote it, cheers.

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