Beginnings and endings. Big breakups generally send me into an existential tailspin, and the one with C is no different. I hate how GOOD I’m becoming at mourning, starting over, moving on, continuing to put one foot in front of the other. There’s only so many times I think I can do this before I lose my sanity- especially as my dad’s condition worsens and the end draws near, my mom takes permanant custody of my 9 year old 2nd cousin (does this mean I have another sister?), I move to a new apartment (my first time EVER living alone), and start over again, again, again. I can’t wait to get to Iceland- I really need the whatever it is that long-term solo travel gives me to help get re-centered.
K’s death was the last death I’ve attended. More accurately, it’s the most recent death I’ve attended; I know myself, my skill set and flaws too well to believe it will be the last. I use the term attended not as one would attend a sporting event, but as one tends to a patient, baby, or to our beloved when they are ill. Attending to a death or birth is rare for most people who don’t work in healthcare (or who don’t have children), which I believe one of the great tragedies of modern (western) medicine and culture.
D’s recent birth, spending time with her when she was only a few days old, reminded me so starkly of the last few days with K- the sense that reality was suspended, that the world outside this building simply didn’t exist and even if it existed it didn’t matter. I was thrown by how much caring for a newborn felt like attending to someone in their last days: sleep deprived but not really able to turn off my brain, huddled together with a family (of blood, choice, or both) as we work together to meet her needs, how deeply and permanently the experience impacts everyone involved.
This week’s posts will be about K, D, and the lessons I’ve learned about how similar attending a birth and death can be, if done well. Monday will be the blog post I wrote the day we buried K, after that will be a post (or a few?) that goes more into what happened the last day and how being so close to death and birth in my life has impacted me.