On Death: I Know It Is Done, So Now We Wait.
Today, I sat with a friend who is dying.
She has a rare, degenerative and fatal brain disease for which there is no cure and she’s declining rapidly.
In our two hours together, she sought desperately for words that she struggled to piece together in her mind, hoping they would be recognizable as they stuttered, detached from her mouth, praying that on that short voyage she’d remember what she had intended to say to begin with. I sat, hanging on to every word, rooted, connected, eye to eye and soul to soul.
I caressed her arm and told her I was in no hurry. I am here, I told her. I am here.
We talked about her boys, her caregiver, the stupid therapy that is totally pointless now because she’s going to die, and about how many people her dear husband called when they got the prognosis so everyone could come and visit before it got too bad. She was her very own receiving line. She rolled her eyes at that and even laughed a couple of times.
I asked if I could bring some of our friends together, to which she looked away and shook her head. “I know you,” she said. She wasn’t saying it like, I know who you are, but I know you know you… and that this was our time.
She has invited me into her disappearing, into her fear, and into the emptiness that she keeps grasping to find whatever is left of herself inside of herself. She is reaching into darkness, into those shallow and deep pools of her brain, that is so often coming up empty… words and thoughts slipping through her fingers like sand.
These few sentences took 25 minutes to construct, and the weight of them hit me hard: “I’m so scared. It’s terrifying, really, and there is nothing I can do. I just didn’t think I’d go out like this. I know it is done, so now we wait.”
I will continue to visit with my friend and hope to offer comfort when I do. I am so very present in the finality of things because she knows, and I know, and we all fucking know. So now, we wait.
In the meantime, do something for me. Answer me this:
Who would you want looking in your eyes as the very essence of you slipped away?
Whose breath would you want to feel on your ear as they kissed your cheek?
Who, when everything feels like sandpaper, feels like satin to your touch?
Whose fingers, woven into yours, assure you that we’re in this together, for real?
Whose chest would you melt into because their heartbeat is the only thing that feels alive?
Whose voice will land most softly on your ears?
Who will laugh with you when laughing is the only medicine you can take?
Who do you want cupping your face in their hands and kissing your mouth because this may just be the very last kiss in an eternity of forevers?
Who do you want to whisper to you when it’s time and okay to let go?
I’ll be finding my own answers to these questions. I hope you will too.
Vanessa Crites has devoted her life to loving, supporting, and holding space for women to regain their personal power, tap into their Divine Inner Resource, and live life fully free. As both a seeker and a teacher, Vanessa believes that getting down to the raw messiness of life is the catalyst to deep growth and expansion. A sensualist at her core, Vanessa loves the smell of freshly tilled soil, the texture of crisp Italian linen, and the mouth feel of béchamel. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her three kids. You could contact her via her website.