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When Death Visits

Don Kressly

My father and me

When I was at my father’s side as he was dying, it felt as if time had stopped, and reality was shattered into a thousand tiny shards. It happened in a blink of time. But when death visits, the world continues to turn.

As your loved one gasps for breath and the scent of death permeates the room, your grandson cuts his knee and needs stitches. Your friend has a double mastectomy, the nurse locks her keys in the car, your mother nurses a broken shoulder, and the plumbing backs up.

When death drapes itself on you and your family, nothing matters. Your friend has a sinus infection and shares the details. You nod and listen, wondering if she has any idea of how ridiculous it seems to be talking about sinuses. But you listen, because you love that person and one thing that death teaches you is that you never want to miss an opportunity to be kind.

The troubles seem to keep pouring on, but in fact, life always has troubles. Normally, you just roll with the punches, but now you are too vulnerable to roll.

It all passes. If you are really lucky, you will have a moment of clarity and wonder what you are going to do with your precious life. Most of us will squander this insight, and forget that life is exquisitely short, and that every minute matters. Later you’ll turn your attention to TV, Facebook, and other devices, anything that takes your attention away from death.

Or perhaps, you will be the exception, and you grab hold of your loved ones and the precious moments of life ahead, and life is transformed beyond your wildest dreams.

I wonder which I will choose? If you are the exception, please tell me how you stopped from slipping back to old habits and how you grabbed hold of life.

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  • Tom Currier April 14, 2017, 10:50 AM

    OMG Lucinda, there is so much here, and I identify totally. I was with my Mom in the hospital 24/7 for her last 3 days. Seven of us were there, day and night, children, grandchildren, my Dad, for 3 nights and days. After the first night, the hospital moved her into a huge room for us. It was agonizing for me – she was too sick and too full of morphine to come close to responding or reacting. In the months after she died, I noticed that people were extremely consoling and comforting when they heard. For about 2 minutes or so, and then their conversation drifted to other things. And then nobody really mentions it after the initial condolences. But I’ve been exactly the same way myself. The death just means something entirely differently to a family member as opposed to an acquaintance. I doubt that I’m the exception you are looking for. I don’t feel her death really led me to transform my life or anything big. But I do feel so appreciative that she was my Mom, and I try to copy her many wonderful qualities in my life. There are feelings of numbness and sadness even years later. My Mom lost her first baby at 3 days old. And she somehow still lived a life full of laughter and strength and kindness to everyone. I always thought if she could do that, I can do anything. I’m so sorry about your Dad’s passing Lucinda. I suspect in terms of “grabbing hold of life” you don’t need to change much. I bet you’re pretty much already there.

    • Lucinda Porter April 26, 2017, 3:51 PM

      Tom, your words brought me so much comfort. As for being the exception, I think you are. Oddly, as these days rolled by, I’ve thought a lot about you and your yoga video on Facebook. You and Diane are amazing examples of how to live a full life. Death is sweeter when served with a full life. Thank you friend, thank you.

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