I have spent several nights this week crying in the hammock under the full moon. I do okay during the day, read a bit at night, turn off the light and then my body and mind betray me. Or maybe they breathe a sigh of relief that they can finally get on with their work. I don't even know why I cry, it just comes and lasts until there is nothing left and then I can fall asleep.
I woke this morning thinking about dying. How I walked with David through the process until I had to let him go. I thought of my father, dying this time last year, alone. With his half moon of whiskey fifths around his recliner. They took him against his will to the hospital and finally hospice, alone and defiant. No one should have to die alone.
Maybe I am crying this week for myself. Who will take that walk with me? Who would I even ask to do that? Someone is always left behind, hoping I suppose, to find someone to walk with them when it is time. Or do we even think much about it? Maybe in the dark night when we are afraid and alone. Maybe then.
It's a great chain of living and dying, walking with someone and passing on the walking to the next in line. But I think in this country we break the chain too often. So many of us die alone, in hospitals or nursing homes, someone we barely know, if we are lucky, walking with us distracted and hurried, doing a job. I have recently heard of death doulas and I see the need. Someone to be with us, someone committed to the journey. But I hate that it's someone we have to pay to be with us.
It is a truly awesome gift to walk with someone in their final days, and we have lost the awe of it. Like so many things that are difficult or messy or take time, we push it aside, pretend it isn't there. Birth, death, raising children, working for our food, truly learning another person's soul. We let others do this work for us as much as we can. The rest we numb ourselves from, create distance, try to ignore. Until in the deep of the night, finally when we can ignore it no more, our bodies and minds breathe their sigh of relief and get on with the work.