The woman lay in her death-bed. She knew her body was old, 86-years old. And it was dying.
She was remarkably oriented, and spoke eloquently. She was, as we know it in the hospice world, experiencing her final rally. A rally is a time at the end of life, experienced by some but not all. During this time, it appears to the observer that all is well, that life is returning, that death has decided to retreat. Energy and coherence peak, hunger and thirst return, engagement with those present becomes animated with conversation and smiles.
The rally is the final opportunity to connect, one to grasp and enjoy and remember. It is a time to speak and listen, to cry and hug and kiss and say “I love you”. It is the final send-off. Because death has not retreated. It is waiting, nearer than ever, invisible to the living. It waits in the light beyond.
The woman’s eyes are bright, shining with incredible depth. Her smile exudes excitement. She is fully present, more than ever before. A strange wisdom glistens on her face. And she speaks of seeing those gone before her. Those dead to us. She reaches to touch them, somewhere in the air. Her gaze is locked on the in-between, the thousand-mile stare. Her presence is one of peace and surrender. She is launching onto a journey, forgotten by the physically living. She can only share glimpses of this journey, for words cannot give justice to the expression of that journey.
Listen carefully to what she says. Listen with your eyes, your ears, your touch, and especially listen with your heart. That is how you will know. This is the only way she can share with you the journey she is on.
She says, “It’s funny. When I was little, for as far back as I can remember, I was the same person that I am now, all these 86 years later. I am that same person. I am no different.” She paused momentarily, then her eyes made momentary, but deep contact, with each person in the room. She says, “Have you ever lay on your back in a field of grass, on a clear, cloudless summer day, and stared as deeply as you can into the blue sky?” Her smile was a bit mischievous, as she continued. She seemed to grapple for the right words. “Well, I did. Many times. And what I noticed was, the blueness never ended, it just went deeper and deeper and deeper. And then, I finally had to look away, because I started to get dizzy.” She paused for a moment. “My mind just couldn’t comprehend infinity.” She became quiet, and her eyes closed. Her rally had ended.
Who are we? I asked myself as I listened to her speak. Her words tell me that we are not what we do, what we say, the work we do, what we think. We are not our personality. What we are is beyond that. We are the essence of consciousness we felt when we first became aware, that essence that continues forever. It is that is-ness that we feel, during those fleeting moments when there is no thought. It is infinitely-present consciousness, consciousness that is connected to all, where there is no end.
The woman knew this when she spoke of her first awareness, before she created a life history. And that awareness, that is-ness, never changed, through all her 86 years inside that body which she briefly inhabited. Her joy and words, as she prepared to leave her physical body behind, spoke of her realization that her original awareness survived and remained, and that something to which she could not give expression, waited beyond, waited for her to merge with all that is.
©Janet Mitchell, April, 2012. Any resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. This is a work of fiction.
- Notes on Gadamer (greenskyatnight.wordpress.com)