Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Through Byron Hospice, for 4 hours every second week, I sit with him in the loungeroom of the home he built for his second wife, 20 years ago. He wonders, repeatedly, how much he'll miss his wife, how she's going to manage when he’s gone.
In this funereal atmosphere, steeped in coffee-coloured light, today I carefully turned the pages of his photo albums, awakening memories long held, names long forgotten.
He is a canvas to grief, and has grown weary, like chrysanthemums left too long at the graveside of the beloved. He is open and honest, a gracious model for conscious death and dying.
Occasionally, during the interminable minutes of emptiness, a spotlight is cast sharply on my mind’s aversions. I watch with horror, disappointment and acceptance at what happens under my skin! Sitting still, doing nothing, a deep and abiding restlessness. TV blaring, irritation, boredom, a neurotic mind that screams ‘turn it off’. Silence, a desire to fill it with clever chatter. Sometimes, during his reflections on his life, I’m triggered to speak, have the final word, offer similar experience from my own life’s narrative. I turn my mind’s eye to his hand in mine.