Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sitting quietly

While it's true, as my wife has observed, that I can't take part in a moment of silence without telling somebody that I'm observing a moment of silence, I do in fact spend most of my working day quietly. Between patient visits, of course, I do a lot of reading, usually with a radio on. And when I visit someone who is unresponsive, I'll sit close to them, preferably near a window because I like a view, and relax into my role as nonanxious presence. 

Oddly, I wouldn't have pegged me for someone for whom calm would become a natural state. I bite my nails, I tap my fingers, I hum and sing under my breath. I am a mess of jangling, banging nerves. I promised myself when I was younger that I would never be bored, and smartphones and Facebook have helped me keep that promise. Sometimes, even sitting next to the bed of a person actively dying, it's difficult not to check my email or a friend's status or my Twitter feed. I admit to giving in more often than I'd like.

But I reflect on the situation this way. As a Unitarian Universalist I accept individual and corporate dignity and worth. And a part of that is something I've heard called NODA. No one dies alone. While I can't guarantee to be with someone when death happens, I can be present for a short time as the process plays out. This ministry of presence, as I see it, is as important to a comfortable death as any drug or prayer. It's the best I have to offer, maybe the best any of us has to offer. To accept the sociability of our species, that we like to live with one another, is to accept we also like to die with one another.

No comments:

Post a Comment