With a look of confusion and uncertainty, she asks me “What’s next?”
And Sandy wants to go outside. Though the fog lies heavily over the ocean waves, masking their beauty, we can hear the pounding surf sounds and scattered faint gull cries that pierce the quiet.
Sandy’s faded gaze keeps wandering to the windows, and the door. She tells me in a hushed voice that she wants to go home now. Sandy has loved planning and building this new home near the ocean, the place she worked so hard to retire to, right before she received her terminal diagnosis. But now, her legs won’t support her down the steps to the sand, to the waves that she relished walking along barefoot not that long ago. It all rolled by quickly, the nonspecific symptoms, the stunning diagnosis, the hospital bed in the living room, and the weakness that sucked away the days and nights and left her here; in this bed; in this strange Neverland of waking sleep; unsure if she was still here; unsure if she was ready to go…Waiting to go home.
What’s next I ask myself? What uncompleted hidden wish, what unfinished work, what needed apology, what goal beyond my grasp? What did I miss about today that was part of the beautiful web in this life? I want to learn from Sandy to treasure what I have today. Like others, “I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life…”*
Slapped again with the unfairness of the day, the timing of death’s sentence, I am reminded to use all the time, all the NOW with alacrity and awareness. Today may be my only chance. It is Sandy’s last few days here. It may be mine. I, too, want to live deep.
*Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods