Last week I was in Death Valley on a 12 day vision fast being with living and dying. I sat in the desert contemplating the things in my life that no longer serve. I thought about my own death and what amends i needed to make before I passed from this world. I thought about the new life that lies ahead if I am so blessed. I listened to stories and shed tears and I returned back to my home to face the slow and eventual demise of a dear friend.
My friend is dying bit by bit a slow and anguishing death. She is alert and watches every day as a new muscle loses its use. She is brave and stoic and now with speech gone communicates through the use of an ipad. I watch her and I cry alone and beside her. I feel no shame but I feel helpless and fear at how we must face our own mortality knowing fate will deal us the last hand. As an ex hospice nurse, I have had the priviledge of being with others at one of their most intimate moments. I have listened to their joys and their regrets as they prepare to leave the earthly life. Yes i sat in Death Valley and died my metaphorical death as it is my belief that it is important to meet death at the door. It is important to open the door and let him in and have that conversation. Death comes to us all. Some of us get the gift of time where we if we so desire can say our farewells and kiss our loved ones. For others death will come when we least expect leaving many unprepared. No goodbyes and no I am sorry. Yes in Death Valley I made amends. I called into my heavenly circle those I needed to converse with to make amends or to ask for prayer. I spoke in the dark of the night as if that night would bring my death. I marveled at the stars and listened to the wind blow around my ears; something i had long taken for granted. I may have years or I may have only the next moment but in my mind i want nothing left unsaid. I wrote a letter to my friend that night. I told her how much I loved her and how much she meant to my life. I spoke of the legacy of love she was leaving to all of us, her friends. I called up memories of the times we had spent together in good health. As I watched her efforts to stand and communicate I understood that we are more than our bodies as her soul was shining bright in a body that was failing. We become so busy living that we forget the time will come to us all for the dying.