Saturday, March 23, 2013

Death Is Often Quiet

It is one of the most difficult things for lay people to understand.

Usually there is a moment to collect my thoughts as the phone rings.  I speak slowly and deliberately.

Something has changed.

They are carefully chosen words to cushion the unavoidable plunge into darkness.  I know. I know. 

It happens dozens of times a year.  Death follows me home after a hard day of work.  It buzzes against my skin and awakens me from a deep sleep.  It yanks me out of exam rooms and interrupts family dinners.

Such irony for a boy excused from class in second grade to be accompanied home by a family friend.  My mother pulled me in close and whispered that my father was gone, even as relatives sat in the living room glumly.  But now I have become my mother and guide families through this awful blackness. 

I wonder how it affects me.  While others struggle with shadows, I see quite clearly.  My eyes have adapted so expertly that often I feign empathy as friends relate the tragedies of the day.

I didn't know my career would lead here.  I didn't know that I would be good at it.

I pray, my dear reader, never to meet you in this lonely place roaming beside me.  But, if I do, I might offer a bit of wisdom.

Death is often quiet.

Pain should be the exception, not the rule.

And suffering, it turns out, is mostly left for those who remain.

1 comment:

golfcrazie said...

Thank you.

What I struggle with most is when I have to tell a very much alive (and often relatively young) patient that there is no hope, I'm sorry there's nothing we can offer except palliative care... Or that the heart of the baby in the womb has stopped beating...

After so many years, I still feel the heartbreak.