A few years ago I lost a friend to cancer, barely 12 months after the diagnosis. During her final months she wrapped up business at her job and then went about saying goodbye to those people closest to her. She planned "final" experiences with friends and family—including a magnificent, all-expenses paid vacation with a few closest friends— and prepared herself spiritually by seeking out the rites and rituals of the church that would prepare her to finish her earthly life: renewal of baptism, Holy Communion, anointing.
It is impossible not to think about life and death when there is a hospital bed in the living room. Perhaps this is one reason why hospice teams recommend that the patient’s bed be placed in a public area of the house—so that family and friends must accept the fact that their loved one is dying. It might not happen today or even tomorrow, but this life will end soon.
There is an 80 percent chance that later in this century a megadrought will plague the American Southwest for decades, according to a study released by researchers at NASA and at Columbia and Cornell universities. The drought will be caused by reduced precipitation and changes in evaporation rates. The researchers say other factors, such as the El Niño weather pattern, could interrupt long periods of severe drought. The researchers say there is time to reduce the factors contributing to climate change (Washington Post, February 12).