Friday, July 08, 2005

Vigil for a Man

Last night I attended my first hospice vigil and death. At the nursing home, I sat across the patient’s bed from a young woman who said he had been ‘like a grandfather’ to her. The paient, a 90 year old man, was lying on his back, oxygen tubes in his nose, unconscious, mouth open, with labored breathing.

The granddaughter had been there for an hour before I arrived. I asked her about the patient, what he was like, what kind of work he did, how he came into her and her mother’s lives. I told her I was there to honor and allow whatever needed to happen, in whatever time it needed. She had gentle music playing on a CD player she had brought. We talked occasionally, and mainly sat in silence on either side of the patient’s bed.

For my part, I entered a kind of contemplative meditation, affirming Omniscience as guiding us all. I felt the wholeness and majesty of life itself, offering no resistance to the good that was unfolding.

After about an hour, I sensed a warmth in the vibration between the three of us, as though we were making a circle of feeling that had shape and height. It felt as though the heaven-and-earth connection had been established.

The patient’s breathing quieted, became more shallow and gentle. It seemed we were all held in this core of powerful warmth. His breathing slowed and became softer, and then simply stopped.

I can still feel the warmth of that experience this morning. Quiet and awesome. I feel deeply grateful to have been there for this man and his family.

And on the practical human front, I notice an instinct to wash the clothes I wore, even my sneakers, so that they will be fresh and ready, like me, for new life experience on earth.

gg murray 07/08/05