Along with all your loving-kindness and warm comments on Monday's hospice blog post, what a terrific bunch of personal stories, too, about your experiences with hospice including those that were not so positive.
The word “angel” came up a lot to describe hospice workers and I agree even with my (so-far) short relationship with them.
I could quote just about all of you but there are too many (you can read comments at the link above) so I will settle for two.
There are quite a few nurses among you and I sure do appreciate your input. Plus, Marian Methner told us about being part of a group creating the first hospice in Michigan almost half a century ago. The rest of us might not have this service today without people like her who did the heavy lifting to make it happen.
And I love what Harold had to say: “Resist a little, there's no rush.” Good point, Harold. I'm going to work on that.
What got left out of Monday's story is what I am thinking about this new stage in my life, and how it feels.
In the past I've told you that I have always used writing to help me figure out what often are muddled or incoherent or conflicting emotions. Sometimes over the years of this blog, I've cleaned up those personal scribbles and included them when it seemed to help tell whatever the story was.
Because thoughts and feelings have been all a-jumble since last Fridays' meeting with the nurse who spent four hours explaining to me what hospice is and how it works, maybe I will do that a bit more frequently now, call it “Journal” in the headline and see how it goes - for me and for you.
Here is today's stab at it, thoughts and feelings that have taken up some time in my mind since Friday.
Let me get this off my chest right up front: dying in the middle of a pandemic sucks. Just when holding a hand, giving a hug, or a kiss hello and goodbye might be more life-enhancing than ever before, we can't do that. And it makes me weepy.
Then I think of the thousands of people who are dying every day alone, without their families and sometimes not even a nurse to hold their hand.
So I move on. It's not that I can dismiss or not long for human touch (nitrile glove to nitrile glove doesn't do the job), but that's where we are and there is no changing it.
In a more visceral way than at any other time in the past three years, I am aware that my time is almost done. A month? Six months? Longer? I don't know. Some days or, more likely, nights when I can't sleep for a while, I'm shaken by the prospect of not being here anymore.
Other times, I feel serene and ready, that it's okay, that it is what is ordained by the universe and now it is my turn.
Those feelings are not anywhere near as clear-cut as those sentences may sound. Sometimes I try to imagine my little world here in Oregon, in my apartment or the nearby park without me and I cannot make being gone feel real. How could it be?
That sometimes turns into, how hard could it be to die? Every damned fool who ever lived has done it.
I keep waiting for my interest in the world around me to wane. I watched both my mother and my great aunt Edith disengage over the last months or years of their lives. I've read that it is a common phenomenon as people get closer to death.
All I've noticed so far is that I don't get quite as far into the weeds of news stories as I have done in the past. But I'm still following the latest political, virus and other stories closely.
What I still feel – maybe with more poignancy these days – is a deep attachment to the world around me. It's not my world anymore but I worry about how we, as a country, are failing at all the astronomical problems - pandemic, climate change, collapsed economy, racial unrest, the horror that is the president – piling up around us.
Not that I personally can change anything, but it nevertheless feels like I will be abandoning my best old friend at the worst possible time. As tattered and worn as she seems to be these days, Earth in all her glorious beauty has been my home all these years. I am so sad to be leaving.