Thursday, February 5, 2009

memento mori

i have never seen someone die... until a couple of hours ago.

what struck me was the details. that weird hospital smell that reeks
of anti-septic and something else... sadness? maybe because the
stale air's been infused with years' worth of loss, muffled grief,
pain and possibly desperation. i imagine all of these seeping into
the corners, turning into permanent invisible stains on the walls
and leaving a permeating stench: imperceptible but undeniable.

then there's this indifference to death. i'm sure it's probably an
everyday thing for those who work in the hospitals. dealing with
anonymous deaths and losses with efficiency and professional
detachment is just part of the job (for the sake of their
sanity, i imagine). but still, this casual, off-hand treatment
of death: the calm pronoucement of death, the brisk removal of
the body from the ICU... it's disturbing, almost callous.

i realized i never want to be that numb.

and then there's the waiting. a death in the hospital is never
instantaneous. it is always preceded by a long agonizing wait...
filled with a thick uneasy silence, punctured by hollow, scattered
attempts at conversations about the inane, the trivial; pitiful,
futile efforts to distract mostly yourself from the harsh, glaring
truth: someone is going to die. someone is dying right this very
moment. and we're huddled here together for this morbid countdown.

i stood there in the ICU. shedding tears because it is impossible
not to feel even an iota of this impending loss. it is impossible
to ignore those heartbreaking goodbyes, those irrational pleadings
whispered in desperation to ears that have been rendered deaf by
coma. it is impossible to not grieve for a friend who has just
lost a mother...

people often feel clumsy in handling other people's grief.
i am no exception. i offered a tight awkward hug when the waiting
ended and the inevitable end began. i struggled with the depth of
the grief i saw in her eyes.

in the end, i realized that there are some journeys we must take
alone. there some pains we simply cannot share. there are hurts
we cannot salve...

i realized that death comes in many forms.