i'm not comfortable with death. i usually meet it at the end of some life disaster like a car accident, a gunshot wound or a devastating cancer. the going gentle into that dark night i don't see too often. i suppose that's more the realm of the internists?
recently i had the pleasure of going to school reunions and seeing old friends that i hadn't seen in quite a number of years. more than one noted that i had changed beyond recognition, not physically but in some other way. i wondered what they were on about. in the end i decided it had something to do with my job. somehow it makes one see things differently.
i remember an old friend telling me his sister had stated that there was going to be a major change in her life on her birthday. he was hoping she would stop selling cigarettes (she worked in a cafe). i somehow thought that that just didn't seem like such a major change. the friend was excited. i was apprehensive. the major changes i see in people's lives tend to be pretty major. sometimes they don't survive.
sure enough, her birthday arrived. they found her in her house with a bullet through her brain. it was a major change she had brought about in her life all right. and i suppose she was also not going to sell cigarettes any more.
recently i came across a post talking about american surgeons. i think that is actually sort of what i'm speaking about. in the end we can't be totally normal. some of us will cut ourselves off from the human experience and become hard and callous. some of us will become exhausted by it all and burn out or become depressed. some of us will see things differently and become unrecognisable to our old school friends.
in the end i try to remind myself of the privilege that has been afforded to me to be able to meet with people in those critical moments in their lives when everything becomes horrendously vivid and the irrelevant things in life quietly fade away into the wings.