Celebration of Life
I recently went to a memorial service for a patient I didn't meet until after he became non responsive. I didn't know anything about him. I didn't even know what his voice sounded like. I sat for many hours next to his bedside with his wife who shared their story, their journey and their love. When she talked about him and all that he had accomplished, there was such pride in her words. She admired him, she respected him and she was truly proud of him.
It was during these hours that I learned how deeply she loved him, and to what lengths people will go to ensure the comfort and care of people they love, who are dying. She was at his bedside until the very last breath, and she advocated for him in a way that made me honored to know her. She talked to him every second, never questioning whether or not he could hear, although we both believe that he could.
When he died, she was there, and her heart was broken into so many pieces it seemed unfathomable that they could ever come together again. Theirs was the kind of love every human being should be so blessed to experience. That mutual kind of love, where neither ever questioned or doubted. Theirs was a friendship built on respect, companionship, joy and a zest for life and all that it offers. Theirs was music and road trips and art and passion, and it was beautiful. My heart ached for her loss. My heart ached for their loss.
As I sat in this large auditorium listening to the different stories about his life, from all the people who walked beside him over the years, I was reminded how very little I get to know about the people I sit with in their last days, and hours, of life. I imagine a life they've lived. I imagine the love they've shared. I imagine them strong and healthy. But these are all my stories, the ones I create because I do not have anything else to work with. But with this particular man, his wife painted such an incredible story for me, that I felt as though I knew him well.
So when I listened to the stories people shared, I smiled and thought to myself, "ahh yes, he truly was that lovely," as though I too knew him for years. The theme of the different stories that were shared, was his love for his wife, and her love for him, which I thought was so incredibly beautiful that they had such a deep love, everyone in their lives felt it too.
As I sat there, I thought of the words "Celebration of Life," which made so much sense to me. The beauty about these two is that they celebrated their life together in such a way, that theirs was a life worth celebrating and even after he passed... he was celebrated for the joy and passion he brought to others. What a gift to be able to be cared for and loved so well that people would want to celebrate you. I was honored to be there. xo