I’ve been thinking a lot about my aunt lately. The one I mentioned here. The one I watched die. She was a lifesaver for me during a period of my life in which I was getting into a lot of trouble. She took me to her farm and things rapidly got better for me. I wish I could talk with her now. I could use her advice right now. Out of all the people in my family… parents, sibling, uncles, aunts, grandparents… only she and my grandfather “got” me. Only they understood me. I could talk to them. I could tell them about things going on in my life without worry of getting a condescending lecture, judgmental looks, or simply walking out on me. When someone like that is no longer around when they’ve helped so much with their wisdom it truly leaves a void.
Then There Was Silence
I, along with other family, was in the room with her when she died. I’ve heard and read so much crap about how someone who’s died is “in a better place now”, or how they “went so peacefully” and other platitudes that people toss around about death. I don’t buy into it. Yes, I’ll agree people can go peacefully with the aid of drugs to ease any pain and cause heavy, almost comatose, sedation. But it’s still death. The absolute end of a life and any plans or dreams that they may have had. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen death, but hers really bothers me. People talking quietly as she took short gasping breaths that became further and further apart until there weren’t any more gasping breaths. It just stopped. There was silence as everyone stood up watching her for another inhalation that never came. She was gone. What struck me most was that she looked exactly the same as moments before when she was breathing. She didn’t look like someone who had just departed for a better place. It was peaceful I suppose in that there were no signs at all of distress, in fact no movement at all in the moments before or after. But I didn’t see any sign whatsoever of some whispery spirit leaving her body. I didn’t see any change of expression on her face… in fact her face was simply as expressionless as it was before her breathing stopped. Was she in a better place? Any answer to that would be pure conjecture, but I saw no evidence of it just as I see no evidence at all for any of the claims of organized religion. There was only silence and stillness.
Yet Another Lesson Learned
In my previous post I wrote about the lessons I have learned from the mistake of hesitation. My aunt’s death has taught me many other lessons as well. Never take anyone or anything for granted. Her death was premature. She shouldn’t have been lying in that bed dying. I cannot, for legal reasons, go into detail about the events that lead to her death but suffice it to say never trust a doctor or hospital that tells you nothing is wrong when you know there is. Go somewhere else, get a second opinion. Demand tests. Although many doctors and most hospitals behave as if you answer to or work for them, the exact opposite is the case. You are paying them, you know your symptoms better than they do because they aren’t the ones experiencing them. They should answer to you, not the other way around. Things can go terribly and irreversibly wrong in the smallest amount of time, in the blink of an eye, so you can’t take anything for granted.
It’s also made me realize that I really need to do the things I want to do now and not wait for some “better time” that may never come. There is no better time than right now to start doing the things you want to do. To start making your dreams come true. In fact there is no other time than now. The past is nothing but a memory, the future nothing more than mental projections and the false notion that we are all guaranteed a tomorrow. There is no better time to begin focusing on the things that are truly important, the people that are really important to you. Make what matters to you your priority. All too often there are no second chances. No redoes. I need to heed my own advice even as I give it here, right now is the time to start creating and living the life you really want. This very moment.