Ocean waves break, roar, drone
Gulls soar, cry, plunge
Dancing, twirling, rolling, running
Wind caressing my naked body
Breaking dawn begins to warm
Behind banks of rose-colored clouds
Clang, shruffle, crash
CODE BLUE! CODE BLUE!
OH GOD! I’m DEAD!
NO, I’m dying, which is worse.
If I were dead, then indeed I could stay here forever
But if I’m dying, then they will try to get me back, without asking me what I want. Mrs. Jones, you are dying. Would you like us to resuscitate you?
They did ask me weeks ago
But at that time
The question was academic
“If you were to stop breathing
And your heart were
To stop beating
What do you want us to do?
What a stupid question.
But now that I see
What comes next,
I’m not so sure
I will miss you all, of course
But that will be true eventually
Though, what does it mean to miss our loved ones when we are in a place where there is no more sorrow, no more tears, no more pain or suffering? Does not “Miss you” imply some lack, some void, some deficiency which we feel – some pain?
But as I stand here on the shore at early dawn and feel the breeze and the warmth of the rising sun and know the power of the whole of creation as one with my very heart, I’m not so sure what I want.
Pain. I feel pain.
That means I’m alive. Burning in my lungs, my nose, my eyes, my throat.
Darkness distorted by glare
Dried mucus glues my eyelids shut, and my arms are weak for lifting hand to face
There is distance perceived between the world and my world
Immediacy is not
You are not here beside me. Your voice, the squeak of your running shoes on the cold tile floor. The brush of your forearm to scratch your masked nose. Away off at some distance un-discernable. Three feet. Thirty feet. Three floors?
Breathing tube prevents speech, yet a scream finds its painful way forth confused and searching. Narrowed vision takes in ceiling, monitors, door lintel, drapes, cabinet, lights, breathing mask, tubes and wires, poles and bags.
Where is your face, your warm reassuring smile? The glint in your eye magnified by one small tear telling me you were afraid but now assured that all is well, or will be well in time. The sigh of relief that relaxes across your furrowed brow? Where are you?
Where are you,
and why are you not here?
Where is everyone?
Why is no one here,
where I am?
Caring for me?
I spent my whole life caring for you, feeding and cradling and nursing and tending and clothing and comforting and rocking and cheering and praying.
Where are you?
Could you not wait one hour with me?
Could you not stay awake one hour?
Pray that you do not enter into the temptation time.
Oh God!? Where is everyone?
My God, My god,
Why have all forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me
From the voice of my cry and my supplication?
Lord, let this cup pass from me.
What will I do now that I can not care for you?
Now that I can not help and tend and serve you?
Who am I absent these things
Which have defined me
I was strong
I was self-reliant
I had no one but myself to
Me and God, we got you through the growing and the living
Now I’m nothing
Naked, frail, sagging and wrinkled
My flabby frail self yields to your warm wet sponge
The dignity of infancy is that we are unaware,
or at least do not remember
There is no dignity in old age.
Is there no dignity in old age?
What if dignity comes not in what I can do.
What if indignity comes not in what you must do for me?
What if naked and frail is dignity defined, personified?
What if there is no greater dignity
than for me to lie here and
allow you to care for me
in your compassion?
What if the greatest dignity IS to stop trying, resisting, fighting?
What if the greatest dignity is to be found in the indignity of the cross?
In your suffering, in your frailty, is your fullest dignity?
As you lie there on that hospital bed, naked and soiled and unable to ask
Are you less human, or more human?
You are so frightened, so alone. How frightening to be completely vulnerable for the first time in seventy years, and think yourself totally alone and without help in the world.
There really is nothing to be done about it. Yes, we can clean you, and change you and bathe you, and feed you, and get you up out of bed and help you learn to walk again. That will not solve it.
Your sorrow is you have realized, perhaps for the first time, you will die. You always knew in theory but now the experiment has revealed a flaw in your thinking. You can not manipulate the variables to your purposes any longer. Always before you could adjust this or change that and move things along according to plan.
Now, your plan is out the window and someone else’s plan is being revealed.
The plan is not for you to suffer. It is a sad confusion of theology to think that suffering is part of God’s purpose or design for us. Suffering is the organism’s response to threat. You would have no need of pain if your body did not think itself under attack. The pain is your brain’s response to assault on your body, real or perceived.
Pain is your brain’s response to assault – real or perceived.
So, when you feel pain, the thing for you to do is to ask yourself
From whence comes the assault on my person-hood?
Is the threat real?
Is the threat avoidable?
Should the threat be countered?
Is response possible to reduce or eliminate the threat?