Today I attended a funeral for my first Hospice patient. I only saw her twice, but I was so impressed by her positive nature and great spirit that I really felt like I wanted to go and honor her at the funeral. (Not impressed like, hey, great work Champ, but impressed as in she made an impression on me. You got that.) I wasn't exactly sad when I heard she had died, and I guess that's because 1) I knew it was coming. I mean, Hospice. 2) I think she was tired and ready for relief from her body and 3) I have faith in an eternal life with God, and she did too. (Today the minister read these words: "For if we are united to Jesus in a death like his, then surely we are also united to him in a resurrection like his." And there is the hope, in a nutshell.)
But as I sat in the church (a tiny, but lovely, friendly but COLD Lutheran church that I'd never noticed before, even though it is in the same town where I work) I thought to myself "uh oh."
I realized with a bit of a start that I had invited death to be a reality in my life, by starting to volunteer with Hospice. This will be the repeating pattern from now on- meet someone new, journey with them briefly toward their death, and say goodbye. No pretending that death doesn't happen, or doesn't happen much, or doesn't happen to good people.
I've been in a pretty good place with death for a long time now. Recently a friend at church pulled me aside and told me that, that week, she'd realized that she is okay about dying. She had discovered that she was in a place where her faith made death less scary, and it was a real lightning-bolt kind of moment. Lightbulb moment? Well, you know what I mean. And I knew what she meant, because I had that revelation at some point- and I feel overall okay about death. You know, in theory, at least. But it seems I've marched into a situation where I'm bound to have that okay-ness tested.