Epiphany:  Merriam-Webster    3a (1) : a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something (2) : an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking (3) : an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure b : a revealing scene or moment.

Sometimes I think my synaptic junctions are widening to basically affect a 20 year delayed response to stimuli. Recently I was re-recording a song I had written back in 1998 called Love You Forever. The lyrics were intended for a young couple anticipating the birth of their first child. Unfortunately, the soon to be Dad I had offered to write the song for was transferred out of the area and we lost touch before I could deliver it to him. So basically the song sat in my studio storage box ever since.

Recently, a friend I had met through my End of Life Doula group (Doulagivers.com), had posted a request for music CDs for use at an inpatient Hospice. I wanted to send her some of the instrumental songs I had written over the years and thought I would throw in a few with vocal tracks also. She had said both types, and any style was welcome. As I was sifting through hundreds of old cassettes and CDs of songs I had written over the past 40 years, I came upon this particular one, (mentioned earlier), that was written with the lyrical content designed to be as if it were the parents singing to their newborn. Simple, assuring, warm.
I cued up the CD. As I listened I was struck with an overwhelming epiphany. Although intended for birth, this song, when applied to a Hospice setting at end of life, was so emotionally powerful I repeated out loud “Oh My God”, over and over as I listened. It hit me in the pit of my stomach like a wave of healing calm, soothing a weary soul. Life at the point where Hospice is required is every bit as precious as birth. And the reality of this had never been so brilliantly clear to me before. My eyes welled up with tears of literal relief as if I could see the circle of life completing itself. These words, written for the beginning, were just as meaningful and important at the end. Maybe these words are even more important for this time. They represent the continuation of love and joy for life at its fullest. A time that is just as scary, bright, cold, loud, and painful as birth itself.

This is not a time for avoidance and fear. Our life is lived right up to the very moment of our last breath….and even beyond. Are not gifts of time and love we have shared with each other, the emotions and rewards of a lifetime much greater at this end then at any other point in our life? The volume of such exchange in many cases is incomprehensible. To task one with the counting of every deed, moment of joy, laugh, shared triumph, healed sorrow and broken or fulfilled dream is astronomical to even comprehend. Although I know some memories are lost and forgotten, others are honored, and span generation after generation throughout human history.

So why is it then that we shy from death as if it were an enemy? It seems like the relationship between life and death, are one in the same. Balance: as left is to right, as up to down, and as sadness is to joy. Are we so greedily selfish that we only love what is new and living? We only celebrate the win? Not the daily sacrifice, work, effort, strain and dedicated loyalty of life. This is just taken for granted? Struggle is nothing to worry about? Expected? Living is just the business of survival right?

Well my friends. Death is not losing as if life were some game. It is the next level of reality. It is so strong of an event that it generates billions of books, movies, and internet hits. Millions of dollars of speculation, prediction, evaluation, commentary and research have been poured into death, or the afterlife, or whatever belief one fancies. But the truth remains equal for all. No one can buy their way, beg their way, or cheat their way out of it. What I believe we can do, is to enrich it with the same genuine love and attention we give to a birth. What can change is that the same generous level of resources for care, comfort and quality can be just as welcome and available as you are helplessly taking your last breath as they were when you helplessly took your first. After a lifetime of living in this hard world, no matter how long that is, it is the least compassionate act of love we can do for one another.

Love You Forever

Thank you, you’ve touched our world. Listen, Have you heard

We are the ones who will, love you forever

Rest here, by my side. Sleep now, close your eyes

We are the ones who will, love you forever

JMD 7-1-1998