We marveled that he was still breathing, this shell of a person who had been dying for so, so long. His wife had told him-days ago- it was time to go, she loved him and would miss him, but she would be okay. I asked if everyone he would want to see had come, and all had said their goodbyes. There were no goodbyes left to say.
His mouth moved in those last hours, and his sister asked if he was waking up. No, I told her, he was trying to say goodbye.
Although I have seen so many deaths, and been witness to the many variations of how things look at the last hour, I could barely watch his dying. Sadness and exhaustion hung in the air. His wife and I talked quietly, wondering what held him here. “There was so much he wanted to do, but he ran out of time. So much unfinished.” Ah, there you have it. The unfinished business… Of life.
Do we ever really finish? I thought back to all to the patients over the years, the ones who faded quietly, seeming to accept each part taken away, and able to let go gracefully right to the last breath. They, too, had wanted to live longer, complete their dreams, and experience another year, day, even hour. How could they be so different, and reach a state of peaceful acceptance towards the end of their lives which was not spoken but written on every line of their face?
This face, so wrought with the turmoil of leaving his unmet goals behind, would haunt me for a long while.
“Carpe diem”, I keep thinking. My lesson: Now. Today. This moment. Make it count. No unrequited desires, no festering regrets. And keep working on relaxing my hold on what is transient, and looking at the sky more, listening to the earth’s song of sweetness, hearing life’s call to gather and love each other, and realizing I am only here a short while.