Stage 4 colon cancer.
3 weeks ago he was sitting up and able to talk. No longer able to eat…only liquids. His body was shutting down and preparing for death.
3 weeks ago his eyes still had a flicker of light shining through them. Even though pain had become as common as each breath he took. He still clung to hope. To life.
He talked of eventually eating again. Gaining his strength back so he could tolerate more treatment. Tolerate more deadly chemicals poured into his body in a hope to buy him more time here on earth. I listened and smiled. Encouraged him to hang on. Even though I could hear death knocking on his soul. I could feel the darkness seeping under the door and making its way through the cracks in the seams of the house. That dark spirituality that holds its own power. It’s own finality. The confidence it exudes knowing it will have the last say in his life.
Today I held his hand. His frail bony long fingered hand and felt what little strength he had wrapping and pressing into mine. With my other hand I stroked his chin and marveled at the beautiful black beard he had grown in the last few weeks. This emancipated man with now hollow eyes, barely able to speak and yet his beard was thriving.
I stroked his forehead gently. No words needed. I knew he could feel my spirit touching his. This young man, twenty years my junior and his journey is coming to an end. I could feel my chest start to tighten as the tears began to moisten my eyes.
Darkness. The mystery of the unknown. What will he find as he crosses over to the other side?
I sat alone in my car trying to hold back the emotions I was feeling that would surely turn me into a sopping mess. I still needed to return to my office and meet the needs of other clients.
I work with vulnerable people. Death is a part of what eventually comes in some cases. Always hanging there, patiently waiting. My heart is touched each time. Sometimes the touch is deeper than others.
We will all enter that darkness when our journey draws to a close. We will leave this world stripped and bare. A shell left behind that once housed our soul.
I still ask why my hearts breaks more for him today. Do I sense that much has been left undone in his life? More to say? More to do?
I can still feel his bony fingers wrapped around my hand and pressing into my palm.
I can still hear his shallow breathing, and see the light slowly dim in his eyes as he enters the darkness.