The eleventh anniversary of my mother’s death approaches.
I can hardly believe it.
We were fortunate; we were (my brothers and sisters) all able to huddle around her at her final hour.
At the point where it became clear she had only hours left a doctor came in to remind her (and us) that there were other treatments she could receive that might prolong her year-long battle with pancreatic cancer.
My mother, ever-so-sensible, looked at all of us and said:
“I’ve had a wonderful life. Now I’m having a wonderful death.”
She was ready to go.
These words – some of her last words – have stayed with me over the ensuing years and stand out to me as one of the finest gifts – if not the finest gift – she ever gave
We could stop our huddling and stand by her.
I can only pray that I have – and am able to give to my children – the same fearless hope my mother had when my end comes.
I often wonder where that hope sprang from.
I think it had its grounding in her strong faith (and devotion) to God.
My mother’s work was finished here on Earth and she was content to travel on.
Maybe it was a brave front she was putting on but I don’t think so.
You would have had to have been there.
And if you had been there you would have seen the lonely and cold corridors of the cancer ward my mother died in.
It’s odd how a hospital’s corridors seem impersonal and sterile until you pass through the door of your loved one’s.
Suddenly you’re conveyed into the warmth and loving welcome of someone who’s glad to see you.
At least for a few minutes.
But my point is there are many people in hospitals right this very minute who are approaching death’s door and they’re alone.
They’re alone and some of them are unconscious and some of them are actually tied to their beds so they don’t fall out.
But some of them are conscious and frightened and lonely.
And it’s all very sad.
A friend of mine tweeted at me this morning:
“number 1 disease in the world is loneliness“
He then called me to elaborate.
“People will tell you they have cancer but they won’t tell you they’re lonely.”
Some of them can’t.
How can we change that?