A lot of people dying. That’s what’s happening.
Death is happening. The word “hospice” seems to be on everybody’s lips. “She’s in hospice.” “He’s in hospice.” This is code for it won’t be long. It’s a signal, the yellow light shining before it turns red and everything stops. The rocket ship is on the launch pad, my friends, and the countdown is about to begin.
What do you do when someone is in hospice? Do you make amends? Do you say, “Hey, I heard you are in hospice. Can we talk about our relationship? That seems peculiar since one person in the dyad is in hospice and not likely to be pondering relationship issues, the other is just struggling to get off the hook before the hook disappears.
It has been a week of unpleasant reckoning.
It would be easier if there wasn’t this rush to the exit that seems to be happening with people I know. It would be easier to handle if it was just one person and then several months or years later another, but it hasn’t been like that. There seems to be a bit of a pile up.
I want to go to the dog park with my dog. That is my answer to all this hospice business. I want it to be cold and maybe a little rainy. I want the sky to be gray and thick. I want to wear boots and thick socks, pull my hood up over my head. I want to smile at other people and dogs but not speak. I want to be outside.
Yesterday I was at a funeral that was a combination of Unitarian and Buddhist ritual. It was purposeful and serene. I watched the people in the pews in front of me relax their shoulders, seeming to fall into the pool of tranquility and patience offered, and so I tried to let go of the things keeping me from serenity so I could be like them. But all I could think about was finding my friend who was the widow of the man who had died (who had been in hospice) and letting her know I had come. Representation is so important to me, showing up, being present, so that was my priority. I couldn’t sink into serenity like the others. It wasn’t possible.
After the funeral, at dinner with friends, I learned that someone else was in hospice. This made three for the week. This was someone I had known well for a long time, who had been a close friend of mine, but whom I had not seen in years. Yes, she was in hospice now. So there was that. I carried that small, burning fact out of the restaurant in my pocket.
We went from dinner to the symphony where we sat in the back row listening to music I can’t name but which involved four French horns playing parts that sounded like husbands mourning their wives. On the way out, we shuffled behind a thousand old people, readying themselves for the rain outside, and I wanted to sprint past them, push my way through the revolving door, and walk arm in arm with my husband, our paces matching all the way back to our car.