If you knew today would be the last day of your life, how would you live it?
Many might imagine themselves emptying their bank accounts, splurging on an over-the-top dinner and night of frivolity in a last grasp at indulgence. Others possibly envision doing something taboo because they wouldn’t be around to suffer the consequences. Many see themselves scrambling to check off items on their “bucket lists.”
I think these are fantasies. Daydreams. In fact, I believe most of us actually would spend our final 24 hours with just a little bit more of what we already have. A little more love. A little more time spent with friends. A little more family. I don’t think we would change much. We probably would call everyone we cared about and tell them, “I love you.”
Hospice care offers us this closure.
Many people know the beauty of the words drawn from the Biblical Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3. This ancient poem (in the 1611 King James Bible) begins, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” And then, the second verse continues, “A time to be born, and a time to die.”
The writer is correct, every one born will, someday, die. That we will die is not unexpected, but it is a moment not easily faced. It is not a topic we lift up in polite company. We sense its finality in our souls and are often ill-equipped to face it. Death can feel like the ultimate thief, the ultimate enemy and so we convince ourselves that it is far away and refuse to acknowledge it is a reality for all who ever draw breath.
I am an avid reader. For years, I commuted via the train to downtown Chicago so usually had a book to read. When my children were young, my reading selections changed but I still read, even if it was picture books and easy chapter books. When my husband got sick, I had a fair amount of idle time on my hands. Ask anyone who has had to spend time at doctors' offices, hospitals, clinics, etc.: you have to learn to wait. So I started to read even more. Now that I am a widow and live alone, I have the luxury of reading whenever I want. No one is waiting for me to make dinner and I feel little or no pressure to clean (when you live alone, the house doesn't get very messy or dirty), so I can read for hours on end.