Here’s part of another Featured Article from Cosmophilia, where you can read the whole piece. Author and hospice volunteer Kemp Battle poignantly reminds us that even the dying still belong here, with us — and if we can remain with them in their journey, they can teach us much. — Amanda P
by Kemp Battle
There is one fact none of us want to talk about. Not only do we not want to talk about it, we have collectively agreed to insist it is not even true: we are all dying. However robust our health, or confident our outlook, each of us is moving toward our own death every day. As the Buddhists say, we are all burning houses.
How reluctant we are to acknowledge either smoke or flame! We rely on one another to act as if our lives are never-ending narratives. We cram our calendars with urgent tasks and hoard our grievances and triumphs as if they are meaningful. We demand the future will be a promise that must be kept, while on and on the noiseless clock ticks.
Each day, however, some learn that their life is coming to an end. In a doctor’s office or a hospital room or even in the stillness of their own homes, they are told that they can no longer pretend. They are thrown out of Eden into the pitiless world of visible time.
In that singular moment, at the start of the most momentous journey they will undertake since birth, something unexpected often happens — something worse even than the prospect of impending death. As the spontaneous laughter around them fades, as singing gives way to whispers or pity is offered instead of presence, it becomes clear that everyone around them is acting differently. Interest in what they might be experiencing is suffocated by newfound sorrow, concern and compassion from those around them.
And so, at the one moment common to all of humanity, they find themselves alone, banished from the tribe. They no longer belong.
How did this happen so fast? Who turned them out into this lusterless land of diminishing horizons?
Yes, us. We the very family, caregivers, friends who tend their afflictions with kindness, who offer them comfort and devotion. And how do we do it? We tell ourselves we cannot go where they are going and so we send them on alone. And we hold a prejudice so deep that we ourselves will not acknowledge it: we resent them.