May 21, 2017

ave atque vale

Through many countries and over many seas
I have come, Brother, to these melancholy rites,
To show this final honour to the dead,
And speak (to what purpose?) to your silent ashes,
Since now fate takes you, even you, from me.
Oh, Brother, ripped away from me so cruelly,
Now at least take these last offerings, blessed
By the tradition of our parents, gifts to the dead.
Accept, by custom, what a brother’s tears drown,
And, for eternity, Brother, ave atque vale
‘Hail and Farewell.’

Nearly six years to the day now.  And in that six years, I have lived and experienced six lifetimes.  One thing I have learned, that experience, that life, that patients (and patience) have taught me is, I am especially in tune with the dying and suffering.  Time and time again, I gravitate towards those patients, those experiences, those opportunities to bear witness to the dying and suffering.

March 13, 2017

a good day to die


     Is there such a thing as a good death?  Or, a bad death?  Soldiers approach battle knowing full well that they may die that day.  Lakota Sioux leader Crazy Horse would exhort his soldiers with the loosely translated phrase, "let us go!  Today is a good day to die!"  But what about those dying from a chronic illness?  After bearing witness to so many dying, some had a day or two, some had months, I am convinced that there is absolutely such thing as a bad death, and if there is a bad death, there must be a good one.  I am also further convinced that dying is WORK, at least from a chronic illness.  Aside from the physical maladies, existential pain riles underneath.  Soured relationships without making amends.  What happens when I die.  What will happen to my kids.  Can you make the pain stop.  Are you sure there is nothing left to try.  What if......what if......what if......