The Space Between Life and Death

To sit at the bedside of the death of a friend is to look into the gaping mouth of hell. Grief chops at you little by little as their life is slowly drawn away. Sometimes, watching every breathe is painful and you want to see the continued rise of the chest ... and you desperately want it to stop to end the suffering therein. You find yourself stroking the frail frame and speaking of the banal because you can't say all that is in your heart for there are no words... or the words and emotions behind them will not help and will only cause more hurt. So you sit quietly and listen to every breath until you find your own mind and body become the mirror image of the life ebbing away. Your breathing slows and all you can see is the simple image of life and desire intertwined. You start to feel their pain in your own body and your mind whispers the same prayer over and over and over. You don't even feel the tears running down your cheeks and barely notice that you can no longer see as your glasses are coated with the tears that have been falling over your lids for what seems like eternities. You struggle to notice the discomfort in your limbs because your own comfort has fallen behind your one need- to be present in those few moments that will soon be over and will never be repeated. In these moments, I feel my own weakness... my own inability to stop suffering or help to end it. I feel some of my beliefs crumble to ash and I am forced to face the deficits in my faith and my heart. The bone deep weariness that surrounds you feels like the new normal as everything you do brings you back to this single point... sitting in a chair next to a friend... watching the failing physical frame and murmuring to the strong soul within which will soon be released. You watch the seizures and you shake, the breathing and you mirror it, the silence that envelopes you both. For this brief periods of time, I hate death and I pray for it... I push it away as I grasp it... I welcome any positive change even if it means death has won for now. Soon, the mouth of hell will close and only love and grief will live on... but in these brief moments I feel like I learn more about what hell really is and what heaven may be than any Sunday school lesson ever taught. And I do have so much more to learn... so much more...

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