I am afraid of death. In fact I used to despise death and see it as the enemy coming to steal joy and happiness. That is until I became a hospice nurse. One would think becoming a hospice nurse would be the last thing for someone with a loathing of death. Looking back, the universe knew of my fear and had a plan. It was a plan that I would make friends with death. The two of us would become intimate and start to pal around together. That might have been the plan of fate but it was not a plan of mine. I simply wanted a job and it was there waiting for me.
Death had been a visitor early in my life losing my only brother at 17 years of age while I was 20. Of course I had seen grandparents die but they had been ill and of advanced years and it had been expected. I was more prepared. It is very difficult to be prepared when death comes like lightening out of a clear blue sky. Death has a way of putting things into perspective. When we are lying on our death bed we can get very clear on what is important. Clarity can be a side effect of impending death.
I was given a gift. I became an observer in the lives of many as they made the transition from life. I stood by bedsides as souls separated from bodies heading for places unknown. I came to understand that no one dies alone even when the room is void of another human. There is a presence and many a dying person is aware. I never knew who they were talking to or reaching for but the invisible presence was always there. Even in great pain comfort would come as breathing slowed.. It is a moment in the big scheme of things for as surely as we are born, we all have to die.
Yes it was a gift. The day I sat with the 17 year old cancer patient who spoke so eloquently of his acceptance of impending death was also a gift. He had made his peace and as he prepared lunch for me spoke of his parents great sadness and their refusal to accept that he was going to die. His sadness and grief was for his parents but as he told me there was work for him to do somewhere else. I was in awe of his tremendous bravery and strength.
In life so many forget. We race thru life placing importance on things that will not matter in the long run; issues that will long be forgotten. We take on an air of self indulgent importance as if we have forever. Many hold grudges and refuse forgiveness as egos fight to claim self righteousness. I am learning to slow my breathing to the speed of life. I am learning to stop and pay attention to what really matters in my world. I am learning to accept what I cannot change. I still have not made death my pal but I can look at him now and know he is not the enemy.