For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)
Today, husband got a call that his friend in hospice probably would not make it through the night. Though his friend has been in hospice more than a month, husband was still surprised by the call. When he last saw him a few days before, his friend was better than he had been in several days, and the two of them passed a long, pleasant evening talking about motorcycles and watching television. So, tonight, seeing him lying in his bed, eyes partly open, but not responsive was a shock. Dying is not a pretty process. Friend could hear us, but could not respond being too weak to say more than a word or two at a time. His limbs jerked, and his hands opened and closed rapidly. His stomach is swollen. He had goose bumps on his legs, but when we tried to cover him with a sheet, he rebelled. “I’m hot,” he mumbled. No one else was there with him, which we found strange. Some friends and family had come and gone. Two other friends came later, but for more than an hour, husband and I sat at his friend’s bedside with nothing to do but watch him sleep and pray. A nurse came in to check on him, and he roused long enough for us to tell him goodbye. Husband was quiet all the way home. At least until I started a conversation about how I want to die if ever put in that situation. I know clearly what I do not want. A quiet room punctuated only by the drone of a television sitcom and periodic interruptions of commercials for Tampax and Cialis. A few people afraid to speak sitting staring at me twitch and moan. No, I want my friends and family there, but I want them to tell stories and to talk. I want music playing and a party atmosphere. At least that’s what I think now anyway. Ask me when I am in the midst of dying. Perhaps, I will want to be alone then, too. But, then, again, I might not be able to express what I want. Husband and I agreed that if the time comes, we would do what was best for the one who would be left. If I were dying and could not communicate, husband will make choices based upon his needs. If he wants to be alone with me and no one else in the room, then, that is what he should do. If he wants quiet or a party, it will be his choice. The same for me should he be leaving. It may be a weird decision, but that’s what we agreed. Because both of us have tried to live a life for each other, even in dying, we would be thinking about our partner’s needs. One thing for sure, party atmosphere or quiet goodbye, we are confident where we will be once we take that last breath. That at least will give us comfort.