Updated: Dec 9, 2021
You knew as soon as you saw this patient that today was their last day living here on this earth.
You knew because you’ve seen it all so many times before.
All those stories, of all those times, where you appear for the first time in the very last line, of the very last page, of someone else’s story. You’ve been there on that weird, half blank page, in the back of the book, so many times.
You feel those familiar feelings coming back. Between the critical seconds that are ticking by, you relive full chapters of your own story. There’s a piece of your story that comes up every time you are present when someone else’s is ending. You’ve never stopped to wonder why.
This being a caregiver, no one told you that it is about letting go and standing by. You thought it was about keeping and saving--and that you’d get to pick who you keep and who you save.
You thought you got to pick.
That is why you chose this job so that you could pick everyone. Everyone stays. Everyone stays and that’s it.
You learned so quickly that you don’t get to pick and that so often the harder you try to keep and to save, it feels like the less likely you are to win.
You feel like this has turned into one big game with only winners and losers. No one told you about all the losing.
Sometimes, all the losing feels like it is going to sweep you away too. Like you won’t be able to keep and to save. . . even yourself. Sometimes, it feels like you can’t even pick for yourself if you get to live fully alive.
Fully alive. What does that feel like?
You didn’t even realize it, and now it feels like it is too late. Packing up and stuffing away all that losing, all that loss. . . you packed yourself up with it. Where are you? Where did you go?
How can you save something you can’t even find?
You thought you could pack up a piece of you. Pick up one painful piece and pack it away. That this would be a better way.
But, no one told you, you can’t pack up only a part of you. You accidentally packed up and put away your whole self. You didn’t mean to.
And then, you realize.
You start to remember. You start to feel like you do remember who you are. . . who you were?
This piece of joyful wholehearted you flashes before your eyes. You know that person, you vaguely remember this you.
You realize that you can unpack this. What if you brought your whole self back? What if you unpacked it all?
You realize for the first time, in such a long time, that this is possible.
You remember that there's one time you do get to pick and that you are yours to keep and to save.
You realize that their last page can be your first page.
You pick you.