At the moment I am around or know people who are slowly exiting, stage left (or rather, Stage 4) in the epic musical, Cancer. I have no firsthand knowledge of the beastie, but various family members and friends of friends have had it or brushes with it, or the same mad hit but in differing keys (apologies for the awful extended metaphor).
Now it is stepping a circle closer. A couple of friends, and my stepfather, and Stage 4. The one where there’s no encores, and this is the final act. And I’m seeing such a diverse response to it – someone is brought to full life by a limited prognosis and is fully going for gold. Someone else is coming to terms with the goals not achieved and the experiences she’ll miss. And someone else is resigning to the limited time he has, but looks to a dignified, non-resuscitated, non-life-at-any-costs kind of approach, aiming for pain-free & dignified death of his choosing. All make sense to me given the people and their different ages and stages, expectations and the lives they’ve lived thus far, the people they will leave behind.
Maybe that’s why I’m thinking about endings, about my own death, death in general and how hidden and feared it is in the current climate. I don’t mind the idea of dying or facing the big full stop when it happens (and if I get a chance to say goodbye or any choice in it at all). But all this slow disappearing has made me think a lot more about life – mine and everyone’s around me. I want so much more out of life than I did around 5 months ago, when death came a little closer, moved into my circles, because it has been reminding me that life is for a limited time only….so get the flock on with it.
Now I’m finding that I have less patience for people who don’t see and value me, or hear me. Doing my tong len and sending them love, but I got no time to be setting them straight, or supporting them in their time of need only to find, months later, they’re not there for me. I got no time for that. This proximity to death is roaring at me to let go of what’s not working; it’s an incredible clarity but also a huge wake up, like jumping into freezing cold water and you gasp. Yep I’m gasping all right! Not sure whether a part of it is hurt at being so disappointed with my friends or that the reality that the friendships weren’t what I thought they were. I’m stopping for a moment to reflect and grieve…but only a moment. then it is time to let it go and move the flock on!
So to Death. Thanks for being that reminder that life is precious, and for a limited time only. Thanks also for the lessons on how to live and how to die without kowtowing to the outer limits of medical intervention, and losing the point of living. But mostly, thanks for reminding me of what’s important – love, honest human interactions, and letting go of what doesn’t serve.
A big fat namaste to you, Death. The Divine in me recognises and cherishes the Divine in you.