Story and Why
Death as Transition
Article by Tom Gilbert - ©
I've often wondered
at the analogy some use about dying, that it is like the passing of a
baton. We are carrying the "baton" of this life and when we die we pass
it off. I must admit I like the image of our carrying something through
life, be it our gift, our personality, or our essence, that is left
behind as we pass over to the next life or plane of existence.
I fully recognize that some people don't believe there is something
else after this life. I respect their viewpoint. But my life
experience, particularly being around dying family members, tells me
otherwise. I feel it in my heart that there is another place we go when
we die. We leave this life and step into the next.
In passing - it's a
phrase that is with me again. It accompanied me when my mom died and
six years later when my dad passed away. Two days ago my aunt died. She
was 88 and lived a good life, full of adventure, travel and a variety
of experiences. She was modest and quiet, didn't like to talk about
herself, but she knew a lot and loved to read books on history. She was
passionate about the Egyptians. The last book I saw her working her way
through a few weeks ago was about the early Hopi civilization.
During her final days as the pancreatic cancer took its toll she spent
much of her time in bed or on her couch. She had twenty-four hour
hospice care. Her daughter, Chip, my cousin, spent as much time with
her as she could. Her other daughter, Judy, made it out from
California this past weekend in time to say her goodbyes. Her two
cats, Ramses and Isis, siamese felines with acute sensibilities, spent
time with her, keeping watch and company. She loved them dearly and the
feeling was clearly mutual.
Aunt Liz was my mother's older sister. Pancreatic cancer also took my mom's life in 2006 (Opening Death's Door).
Everyone else in Liz's immediate family had already passed on. Her
mother, whom we called Nana, died many years ago. And her father died
when she was barely twenty. So I never knew him, but from what I've
been told he was a kind and loving man. Liz grew up quick when he died
too young. She helped handle family matters. Later she left her Boston
home and planted herself in California. It was the beginning of her
adventures that included visits to many countries and marriages to two
good men who preceeded her in death.
In passing. Now she is
gone and I am again contemplating our place in life. It is inevitable
to do that. The older we get and as family and friends pass on we start
considering our own mortality. And we (should) think about our legacy.
Why are we here? What are we doing with our precious and sacred lives?
I am glad that my aunt was here in New Mexico the past four years so I
could know her better and spend time with her. I do wish we'd
documented more of her life. I preach the importance of that regularly
from the pulpit of this website, but unfortunately I am not always
practicing what I preach.
In passing. Don't
let the days go by without capturing time with loved ones. Get the
stories, yes, but also spend the quality time. Each of us has a gift
and it is that baton of our unique talents and personalities, given to
us to share with others.