What an honor and privilege to witness the deaths of so many. I never thought when I was young, that I would want to be at the bedside of dying people. I didn’t have dreams of being the only person present to hold someone’s hand as they took their last breaths. I didn’t aspire to bathe the body of a deceased person and wrap it in a shroud to send to the morgue or the funeral home. Yet that is what I have done.
That is the story I have to tell. I am the one who whispered quietly in an ear that it is okay to go now. I listened to stories that people tell of the life they have lived and the children they have raised and the people they hope to see once they get to heaven. I was the one to pick up the phone and say that your loved one has passed or that I thought you better get to the hospital because it is time. I am the one whose heart broke for the tragic loss of a patient and the grief of their family and then had to move on cheerfully to the next room so that patient wouldn’t know how close death was to them. I am an instrument of peace. I am so happy and grateful now that I can tell the death stories that are close to my heart. Stories that rubbed at me until they were shared, much like little pebbles of sand in my shoe; I have to get them out. I tell these stories so that others can heal, and learn, and understand, and appreciate life and death for what they are; raw, natural and beautiful.
“My life is my message.”– Mahatma Gandhi