I was sitting with a hospice client the other day when the doctor came in. He was younger than me by a good ten years or so, but kind and respectful. At one point we found ourselves alone and he turned to ask me how long I had been a volunteer and why I do this. I felt oddly akin to him, in our choices of dedicating our time to easing the pain of fellow humans. At first I wise-cracked, “I could ask you the same questions.” His eyes crinkled in a smile and he waited.
In so much of life we are forced into contact with others through shared situations; work and school for example. I find the best connections are made when I seek out something new and foreign. For me, just taking the volunteer course meant stepping out of my comfort zone and facing a room full of strangers. Having to take a deep look inside and reveal emotions I needed to deal with but hadn’t focused on, was a major step. The relationships I forged, made me rethink who I believed I was.
Are there pearly gates and eternal peace in the end? Do we reincarnate in some way impossible to imagine? Is there nothing left when this life is over? Uncomfortable thoughts we all wrestle with, never more so than when faced with a death. Religions have sought to bring reason to the questions, and spiritual leaders teach calm in the face of our fears.
As I pondered his question, the warmth of the sun steamed though a window, the soft colors of the room around me gave off a calming sense and the smell of old, polished wood stirred memories. “I do this in honor of all those who can’t ask me why,” I replied.