This morning I had a flash back to last week’s hospice visit where I sat across from a woman who, as they refer in the hospice field, is “actively dying”. Across from her and next to me sat this woman’s beloved husband of 60 years. Between the two of them, they have 180+ years of life on this planet.
The sweetest part about being with this couple is getting to witness how 60 years of unconditional love blossoms, especially when one of the pair is nearing the end of life. This little wise man shared stories of their life together and he was sure to note that their marriage had experienced many peaks and valleys. He then sealed all of the years together so elegantly with his robust bright eyed smile.
Of all the lunch dates I have been on, this was perhaps one of the most meaningful. Stripping down our roles and physical conditions, it became clear that we were all sitting at the table with two honored guest- Love & Death.
It was pretty magical, yet also very simplistic. We allowed ourselves to be present in the moment, flowing in and out of moments of talking and silence. Everything felt just right. There was nothing to fix, nothing to change, and there was definitely no holding back. We all just met each other in the spaces we were in. It was perfect.
As I recalled this lunch date, I got to thinking about my own impending death. My mind often wonders to what this big adventure is all about, or in what fashion I will be departing. I’m not about to say that I am fearless when it comes to death, I too feel a sense of clinging to life and some sadness when I contemplate my death and the death of those whom I adore.
But you know, this lunch meeting with love and death has got me thinking…Perhaps when we go out, it’s like sitting down at the table with love and death. Before your bottom grazes the surface of the seat, your entire being is immersed in an unconditional love that you have only ever touched the surface of. You look death in the eyes, and then you glance over to love. And suddenly you have an absolute knowing that is all the same. They are not separate. Suddenly all of our fears and concerns melt away and we become one with love.
My beloved teacher Ram Dass equates the experience of death as “taking off a tight shoe”. The more I am sitting with death, I am slowly beginning to see what he means. But yes, I still have a mighty long way to go.
Speaking of sitting at the table with death, are you familiar with the Death Over Dinner project? I think this project is fabulous because it invites us to sit down with love & death, and you all know how I feel about that experience! But let us remember, that conversations of death can happen anywhere…not just over the table. Conversations about death should not be confined to a time or place.
The more I embrace my life more fully, the less scary death feels. Ya know, I really think the Buddha was on to something when he shared the following:
“The Buddha taught there is no birth, there is no death; there is no coming, there is no going; there is no same, there is no different; there is no permanent self, there is no annihilation. We only think there is. When we understand that we cannot be destroyed, we are liberated from fear. It is a great relief. We can enjoy life and appreciate it in a new way.”