I step into the room its kind of like landing in Oz, you know when Dorothy is looking around sort of star struck? Now just add holy and sacred to that, as if golden light is shimmering everywhere. Beautiful Lucy glances at me for a brief moment and smiles like she is watching the best movie ever, a feel good movie. You know the one that lifts your spirits, leaving you with a warm inner smile, like a Christmas movie where all the family is together and the love ‘feeling” is tangible? and I am so excited for her.
Lucy resides in a private room in a board and care facility. She has been my patient for about 2 months. The very first thing that happened between us was our exchange of smiles, I have never assisted a dying person with such an incredible smile! She always smiles. In that 2 months we had only one verbal conversation where we talked about her life’s work as an artist, she told me she liked painting hearts and enjoyed being a teacher of of the art’s, helping young and old to see the possibilities within themselves to be amazing artist’s. Her husband passed not long ago and in our one conversation I knew he was the love of her life, I sensed this woman was ready to die. After that first visit we didn’t really have any more conversations but she would always smile and nod to let me know she was okay and that she could hear me. I decided though early in our relationship that our exchange of smiles was to be our communication.
To REALLY be present with the dying is difficult to put it to words it is such a mystical kind of experience. One has to enter into a space, and as you sit in this space wait to receive what’s there, patiently, quietly in the silence the mystical experience will begin, listen to hear whatever it is your supposed to hear, open into the eyes of you heart, discover what is really present. Resist the urge to fix the sheets, straighten the room, read the cheer-me-up cards, ask dumb questions because silence makes YOU uncomfortable, trust me the patient is not thinking that. BE with what’s uncomfortable, BE with what’s in the room, BE with death. Listen with your whole body, you will see and feel things that are very special. In our busy lives we get kind of harried yes? Just sitting is something most don’t do. I sit with Lucy and wait for her smiles, in-between those smiles on many of my visits I would see anxiety and a tear well up in her eye. Touching, giving her a squeeze, stroking her hair and letting her know its okay would bring her back to peace. Then she would smile again.
My beautiful Lucy got passed the anxiety, I witnessed her in what I call a curious bliss, she was quietly looking around, her eyes moving from side to side, first to the left side of the room, then straight in front of her, then gazing passed me. This is SO much like a newborn baby gazing, they kind of look past you and sometimes above you, to the right or to the left. The movements are slow; there is no stress just a curious bliss.
Lucy, was so peaceful this day, at one moment she looked at me with inquisitive eyebrows, eyes wide open, I said, are you seeing angels? She then nodded like a three old would do if I said, is that your cookie you’re holding? It was that kind of look and then she smiled and went back to her curious bliss. Dying people can become so childlike in their gestures in the end. There is a childlike sense of wonder in a peaceful death such as this one. My own eyes well up because the room is full of angelic energy. I witness Lucy and acknowledge the unseen ones, it feels like even more angels are arriving to take this woman home.
I was contemplating leaving because I just felt it was time to go, Lucy seemed to be in a place far away now eyes still open. There were intimate conversations going on with the other side. It gave me such peace to watch her. In these moments I felt like the angels were telling her its okay to come home now, as humans we resist that in-between mystery between here and there, it’s the travel time that’s a bit scary, yet I felt like if I was Lucy she was getting information about what happens in that time, kind of like Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ close your eyes click your heels 3x’s and say there is no place like home, there is no place like home, there is no place like home, open your eyes and there you are, with all of your loved ones around you, and you telling them about all your crazy adventures on earth.
If anyone asks me how I can work with the dying I am going to shrug my shoulders and smile because sometimes there are just no words to express what I do.