Denlow initially requested that Melissa do everything in her power to extendhis lie, even i only an eyelash utters. Ater a three-year journey, aced withrepeated losses o capacity and related reedom, he is now more ocused onquality o lie than quantity. He also defnes healing as something more thanphysical. During our many conversations, Denlow has spoken o what he islearning along the way. Impatience has fnally yielded to gratitude. Despite ahistory o procrastination, he understands that it is better not to put o whatcan be done today, including loving those around him.His busy daily regimen o rising, bathing, dressing, eating, working withmassage therapists, a psychotherapist, and an acupuncturist, as well as visi-tors such as me, demands considerable energy as well as the help o his aide.Even talking is a whole-body exercise requiring coordinated management o limited breathing, a exing diaphragm, and a tongue and lips that don’t alwaysrespond aithully. I commented one day on the vast amount o energy heexpends in speaking and he told me that
he does takes eort.Yet despite the challenges that deepen as time goes on, Denlow continuesto express himsel through poetry he shares with amily and riends. Healso shares a visit each week with a close riend to a local movie theatre, thecontinuation o a lielong passion or movies. O course, the journey is madepossible only because o his wheelchair and the services o a local transporta-tion company.At his birthday celebration, I met the circle o riends who love Denlow andhis amily. They’ve long appreciated his sense o humor and idiosyncraticview o the world. Last year, when he was unable to decorate their home orHalloween, a avorite pastime o his, riends came and did it with/or him.The occasion was documented by a collection o still photos o each personmaking unny aces that became a large print, now hanging in their home.Melissa told me one day that although Denlow worked in an ofce, dressed ina shirt and tie, he painted his toenails as a statement o his inherent reedom.He chuckled at the realization that he alone knew he was wearing brightlycolored toenails as he sat through business meetings. Even the name thatso conused me beore I met him announces his rebellious streak. His givenname is Dennis Enlow, but when he was sent to the principal’s ofce duringseventh grade the note was always headed with his name, “D. Enlow.” A riendpicked up the nickname and he’s held onto it his whole lie.So is it irreverence that makes possible such a graceul journey throughgrowing incapacity and an end understood by all? A bit o gallows humorhelps, perhaps? No doubt, though it is love and good will, proound respectand trust that inorm everything. You can laugh in the ace o challenge whenthe people with whom you laugh care deeply or your well-being. And beingwell has nothing to do with a long lie. Melissa told me one aternoon that hercommitment throughout this journey has been to live it with integrity. Thatdoesn’t mean perectly. It does mean doing it with an open heart that extendsto the whole community that surrounds their amily and oers support.Perhaps it is not possible to know how they will reach the end o this journey,but it is clear these lovely people have been touched by grace, which they sharewith everyone around them, including me. Thank you, Denlow, or inviting meto share your journey. Thank you, Melissa, or being the remarkable womanyou are. However this unolds, I plan on being there with you both.—Curtis Grindahl
The body passes away. Everything is impermanent except the love o God.
Thus shall ye think o this eeting world: A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream, A ash o lightning in a summer cloud, A ickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.
—Buddha, in the Diamond Sutra