One thought about how Life is conceived from the perspective of a person in its deathbed. True story.
The light spectrum was amazing, even in a bleak, cloudy afternoon. Light breezes intermittently blew the clouds apart, simmering sunlight at time. If you gazed up, the zephyr blew the leaves, in addition to the sparkles of sunlight that appear to be dancing lights of red, orange, yellow and green shades. It was heartening to bike under my happy spot, an ancient and strong tree standing in the middle of a magnificent park. The smooth sliding of my bicycle’s tires against the ground made me feel at ease. Everything could be overcome.
As I turned the curb, an immense building stood, its white-washed wall gave it a solemn look. The place was a “reason more to hope” for the dying and ill, a place where the human heart and soul unites for compassion and understanding. I was overwhelmed to be a part of that.
As I entered the temple of healers, white lights flooded my sight. It was very busy, with nurses running around with some important life-or-death issue in mind, doctors being called to the various sectors of the hospital via-intercom. I looked around for the administration office to report myself to my first day of volunteering.
“You must be the new one,” I heard a woman called from behind me, which startled me. I gave a little jump.
“Yes, ma’am.” I said.
“Good, follow me. I’ll show you around.
I followed the nurse obediently. My guide lead me through the hospital, located various pharmacy in within the hospital, patients check-ins, the storage rooms, emergencies room, etc. Awhile later she showed me the various Medical Sectors, it was like going through my childhood again, in which I spent countless of hours roaming around this very hospital, whilst my father was at work.
The critical patients’ room, sometimes called the “Red Zone” of the hospital, were glass-covered and had sliding-glass doors, you could easily see the person who needed treatment. As I passed through each room, I felt different sensations according to what I saw. A room with a gathering of people meant a successful operation and in due recuperation, one with people holding hands was the “war of faith”, praying for the operation to be successful. Every room had a sign of hope for recovery, except one.
The lights of the room were dim, giving it a somber-looking effect. The room inspired a sense of loneliness, the lady lying in the bed could easily be considered dead, but she wasn’t. From the outside of the glass my heart thumped loudly when the room was in sight. I stopped wanting to satisfied my curiosity of the strange feeling. The door was slightly opened.
“I’m dying Doctor Greenwood,” she said, weakly.
“I know,” was the only thing he said, holding her hand tightly.
It was a quarter of an hour before my shift would come to an end, I was exhausted. I was waiting for the pharmacist to bring me a medicine which a doctor made me run an errand on. Dr. Greenwood caught with me while I was walking back with the medicine on hand.
We were silent for awhile.
“The woman in that room....” I hesitated, whether or not to continue.
“Yes. She is going to die.” Dr. Greenwood said, understanding quite well the unspoken words. We fell silent once again.
The next afternoon I made my usual trip to the hospital along the same road I’ve always used. But this time the ride was not “smooth”, I was very turbulent at mind. Death was my first impression of the hospital that day. The unbeatable death, a fate, curse or blessing, everybody must carry within themselves. Life seem so simple before that moment, human beings are so fragile at this point. As I rode through the park I saw a group of friends talking and enjoying a care-free walk. Near the lake, a boy was playing his guitar in harmony with the “quack quack!” of ducks. They seem so lighthearted of how fragile human life was, while people in the hospital cared a lot about it, what an irony.
I arrived at the hospital, the nurse who had shown me around the hospital came to me and said, “Good you are finally here, you have a special assignment today. A lady is in her deathbed, and she has got nobody to be with her. Will you mind being with her?”
That’s the lady, I thought. I wanted to say no, but a greater force than my will made my head nod. It was all set, I shall be with her.
I was brought to her room, it was darker than I expected, and she seemed asleep, not stirring in her bed at all. I just sat down in the stool brought to me and stared out of the window, looking at the maple trees change their green foliage to bright autumnal colors.
“It’s beautiful, right?” the lady asked.
I gave a jerk and spun my head at her direction, apparently she was awake, staring and having the same thoughts as I did. “Yes.” I said softly.
“It’s sad my death is approaching, I won’t see these kinds of things again.” There was only longing in her face, not a trace of sadness was there.
“Don’t say that,” I whispered, more to myself.
“You are still very young,” she said kindly, although she wasn’t more than thirty years old.
I remained quiet. She wanted water, so I went to fetch a jug of water. In my way back, I came across Dr. Greenwood.
“How are you doing with her?” he asked.
“Fine, I guess.” I said, but couldn’t stop myself for such a childish question, “Why isn’t she sad at dying? I mean, she is leaving this world and the people who love her.”
“She is a loner; she had a severe gastric infection called gastric ulcers. She was very advance in it; we couldn’t do anything for her because she had renal failures too. She is way too fragile to perform any operation on her. She welcomes death as her only path at the moment,” he said, and added in an undertone, “there are far more things to fear than death.”
What could be scarier than death? I wondered. I had no idea at that time, but I have now.
I returned to the patient, she had sat up, her back against the bed recliner. She looked ghastly and pale, dark rims under her light brown eyes, her brunette hair seem thinner than thought of.
“You are back,” she said with a welcoming smile.
“Yes, sorry for taking so long.” I said.
“It wasn’t long, I have appreciated every minute you were gone gazing out the window.”
“What were you gazing at?” I said, then hastily, “If you don’t mind telling me...”
“At the bright colors of autumn,” she said, “it’s sad I will just be somebody else in this world.”
I stayed silent. “Do you mind me asking...?”
“Where is your family?” I inquired, and added rapidly, “you don’t have to answer, sorry for my question.”
“It’s okay,” she smiled kindly, “well, I don’t know. For all I can remember I have been alone in this world and have left behind the people I’ve met.”
“Oh...” was all I could manage to say.
“I will disappear completely when death comes to receive me with open arms. Life is not forever, but memories are, and I have no one to remember me, no one’s memories in which I can dwell and be alive.”
I was utterly shocked. “Memories are not forever.” I said, after much contemplation, “When the owner of those memories dies, they will die with them too.”
“Good thinking,” she said. “But, memories are passed on.”
“We are not forever,” I said, debating with her, “human beings are very fragile...and memories are part of us, as imperfect as us.”
“To Live beyond Death,” She said finally.
Three days later she died, three months later I understood her words.