In the End,What’s Important?

At the end of 2020, about a month before my wife Elizabeth passed away after a two-year struggle with pancreatic cancer and stroke, I was helping her out of bed one night and accidentally brushed against a beautiful lamp which had belonged to Elizabeth’s mother, and which she treasured. The lamp fell to the floor and shattered to pieces.

Very calmly, Elizabeth remarked: “Don’t worry. It’s nothing. What’s important are relationships. What’s important are people.”

Death, and the confrontation with death, certainly brings about an ordering of priorities. One’s focus narrows, to what is really important. Things like material possessions, money and status fade in relation to the real treasures, treasures of the heart.

I was thinking today of a woman Elizabeth and I knew about ten years ago while we were living in Oregon. She was in her seventies, struggling with continuing serious health and financial problems, whose spirit was simply indomitable. Her daughter, in her thirties, was extremely intelligent, but often in and out of jail because of drugs. Her son was much overweight and was mentally impaired, though he held a simple job and simply loved to eat, especially extravagant deserts, and who appeared to really love his life. Together they were a family, and the mother held them together with deep courage and love amid all their troubles and problems. They exhibited an abundance of treasures of the heart. Theirs was a story of real greatness.

These are the affairs of the heart that continue to shine more brightly as time moves on, even though death has taken away the outer trappings and distractions. These are the treasures we carry forward, beyond the rhythms of life and death, that can never be destroyed.

James Hilgendorf is the author of eleven non-fiction books, his latest being “Capricorn & Cancer”, a story of love and marriage, life and death, and the struggle for America’s dream amid the pandemic.

In their 50th year of marriage, both the author and his wife, Elizabeth, waged an ongoing battle against Elizabeth’s pancreatic cancer and stroke.

Meanwhile, America itself was waging a war of its own – political, economic, and social division and a devastating viral attack – that tore apart the fabric of our nation, threatening the end of our national identity.

Who are we? Where are we headed?

Life and death, moving about each other, searching for answers and a way forward.

A time of deep transformation.

To purchase a copy of “Capricorn & Cancer”, in paperback or e-book format, visit your favorite online bookseller.

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