Given Back

Excerpted from The Holy Man by Susan Trott ©1995:

Chapter 8:  Grieving Man

“I have lost my wife,”  he told Joe (the Holy Man) when Joe invited him to sit down.  “She has been taken from me.  She is gone.  I loved her so much.  Now I will never see her again.”

“Did she die?”

“Yes, that is what I am saying.  She is gone.”

“Well, she could have left.  That would have been worse.  Then you would still never see her again but have to suffer the added pain of rejection.  But this is very sad.  I am sorry that you had to give her back before she gave you back.”

“I beg your pardon?  Give her back?”

“Yes, you are adding to your grief by being such a victim.  If you say to yourself that you have given her back, you will feel better.  Because, you see, she was never yours.  Nothing that you have is yours.  It never was yours.”

“But that’s crazy, my possessions are mine.  My children are mine.  And my wife…”

“No, they are not yours.  Only you are yours.  Not your possessions, not your children, not your wife.  You will have to give them all back.  You do not get to keep any of them.”

On Silver Wings

Last night I dreamed our neighbor had big silver Angel wings, and was ascending to heaven in a bright  column of light.  I was waving at her, no sadness, and shouting “Goodbye, Shera!  Thanks for coming!”

I know it wasn’t a Vision From on High.  I was thinking of this song and of her before I fell asleep, and my subconscious mind merged the two.

But still, that’s not a bad way to think of her.

Euthanasia

May you always do for others
And let others do for you

It’s the second line that’s the hard one.

I don’t know how I feel about euthanasia.  I have a basic reverence for life that screams “No!”, but…

Our neighbor across the street is dying.  She’s just a shell now; her body lives on, but her spirit has already passed.  She may already be gone as I type this.

I know that if euthanasia was legal and easily obtainable she would have taken the tablets herself six weeks ago.  This isn’t how she wanted to go out.

But I’ve also seen the steady stream of friends and family that have come in to take care of her.  It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to care for someone you love.  It will be a comfort for them to know that they did all they could for as long as they could.  That’s important.  I wouldn’t want to take that away from them.

Which brings me back to: “I don’t know how I feel about euthanasia.”

(Full lyrics at BobDylan.com, by the way.)

I’ll see you on the other side

Our culture doesn’t accept death gracefully.

Dylan Thomas famously advised:

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Death notices frequently contain the phrase “lost his fight,” as if death were a defeat, a moral failure of some sort.

I watched our friend and neighbor being loaded into an ambulance this afternoon.  She had wanted to die at home, but I guess things changed.  I could see the twinkle was gone from her eyes already, the spark of exuberance that defined her is gone.

She had a good life.  She’s ready to go.

And I hope she goes gentle into that good night.

Roles

Our neighbor across the street is dying.  She was told she had two to three months to live, and it’s been two.

Today, as her time is drawing to a close, there was a lot of activity at her house. The difference in genders was striking..

The women popped out of the cars, bouquets in their hands, and sprinted into the house.

The men stepped out of their cars, paused to look at the sky, then walked slowly to the door.