I was sitting in the tire shop, waiting for my car to be serviced, as an older lady approached, fully masked, gloved and clearly distressed as she was expressing her disappointment in others not wearing face masks.
She had been given strict orders by her physician son to protect herself from the Rona. Prone to pneumonia, her doctor also made her understand that she WILL die if she should get the virus.
At first I was taken back. “How do they dare speak to you like that! They are not God!” I said to her, not hiding my own annoyance at all.
I recalled my own physician experience of an ex who was absolutely certain, that Depo Provera has no side effects…. even to his (supposedly) beloved girlfriend, highly prone to depression and PTSD triggers. I can assure you he could not have been more wrong, but it can take decades for physicians no recognize value in common, real life evidence, outside of the confines of their superior classroom-to- hospital-room-to-examination-room environment, governed by the pharmaceutical companies they indirectly end up working for.
Of course I didn’t mention that, but I’m only human and that is 100% where my mind went.
Inherited from my dad, who was a minister, I preached sternly to the lady, that even with a high likelihood of dying from the virus, it is sure as can be, not up to any other human to put definitive quality on such an outcome.
Being somewhat of a people’s pleaser, she assured me that she sometimes just say yes to her son’s orders, to please him. He had suffered tremendous loss and cannot emotionally afford to lose her. Oh! That makes sense,I thought.
I give her that: Great for stepping into your own authority, lady, for reminding us that we (especially as women,) often obey to the word of authority (often men,) not because what they say is the rule, but because of our selflessness in honoring their ego needs.
NOTE: Don’t let your noble intentions of protection another’s pain turn into a limiting mental situation for yourself.
So, we chatted a little more, simply enjoying the human contact between us, something she had been deprived of for the last several months and I cracked the question. “So, how do you feel about death? What do you think will happen to you when you die?”
Now, don’t be alarmed by the lack of filter on my part. I have consciously developed my approach, ability and experience in asking these deep, kind of personal questions to our older community. I am aware of their enthusiastic eagerness to participate. They have, after all, a lifetime of experience to share and welcome the opportunity to make that count.
My pledge to you is to engage in deep questions about life with those qualified to answer. Being a lifetime on earth, is a big, freaking deal. Why not give those who have achieved it some recognition by asking and showing interest.
You will not believe the surprise when I found out that nearing the eighty year mark, expressing struggles in being alive, all her energy goes into accomplishing being alive and that she had never spent a single thought on dying.
Are millions, perhaps billions of people terrified of death , simply because they have never spent a single thought on it? Or is there more to it?
The lady mentioned some life accomplishments, quarantine has urged her to achieve, related to creating more connection in her life, as if achieving those accomplishments would give her more assurance of when her time would be. Realistic? Perhaps. Healthy? Sure. Peaceful? Hmm, couldn’t help to notice the undercurrent of disappointment for not having gotten life right yet. Although I do think that her intuition is as sharp as a razor, as love and connection is a determining factor of whether and when we are ready to transition.
By now the personal barrier between us had been cracked and we chatted like old friends. I wanted to know how she would like her mind to be at the moment she passes away. Her dying, was after all a reality she would deal with sooner or later.
We had elicited no definitive answer as to what kind of mind she wanted to transition with. I worried that our time together would run out before having that clarity, so rather than asking more questions, I decided to offer my personal thoughts.
I offered that, somewhat in contrast to her in a sense, I really live to die – to die one day, when the time is right, in peace, knowing that I have experienced love. That day could be today or in decades. My goal is to die with mental peace, and every day alive, is preparation for that moment.
Then she recalled offering council to a friend, who was struggling with the guilt of “letting her mother die.” She had reminded her friend how she was there for her mother in the moment of her mother’s passing and was able to offer so much love.
We talked about love, how really the experience of that is the ultimate and in our last moments, really the ONLY thing that matters.
Together, we recognized the love she has in her life. The people in her life, who include her physicians, are people who care about her, and rather than experiencing their connection as fear, (fear of death, dear of disappointing, dear of suffering, fear of causing suffering etc.) she can experience it as love. The experience of love is openness, acceptance, connection and gratitude.
I believe that the purpose of life is to experience love, and only when we have experienced it, we are ready to die. So, in that sense, my question to you is: “Are you ready to die, happily, today?” Because if you are, you are also ready to live, today, happily.
PS. If you are convinced that you have not yet received love, still waiting for that special one, take yourself back to the moment you were born. A bundle of innocent love entering this world melts events toughest of hearts. Even if you can’t recognize it, it is almost guaranteed that you have received love this lifetime and giving love cannot happen without experiencing it first. If you have offered love to another, you have experienced it.
We exchanged details, making sure that neither will be spending Thanksgiving alone and parted ways, opened up to love.
Connection is always better than separation. Discomfort can lead to closeness. Connection is important. Show interest in elders, they deserve it. Talk about the difficult issues. Death is part of life, it can be beautiful.