Near Death Awareness

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It could begin long before
the diagnosis announced
the time for farewell had come,
but the awareness
deepened and clarified
as death (as love) drew nearer. I watched

and listened. 

Many patients
experienced sifting, in thought,
shifting, in language,
lifting, in dreams of sweet reunions
beyond, a light-filled world…I held
their new mysteries and old regrets
in my watching and listening.

They saw angels, parents, long-dead partners
spoke, laughed, lingered with visions
I could not see.
The liminal glowed, golden and
Everywhere. I watched

and listened. 

My job was simply presence, not
an anchor in this world, but often
a final, gentle harbor of peace
before they said yes
to the sweetly tinkling lanyards, the
voices of beloveds
beckoning their buoyancy
on waves of love (as death)
that would carry them off.

Death (as love)
befriended them, or tried to,
sang beneath their windows,
beside their beds,
holding them, embracing,
sharing their breath as it slowed…
She infused their psyches
caught their words and tangled them,
unraveled them, then wove them again
into tapestries of symbol and metaphor.

I would ask:
How is it for you? What do you see?
They chose words they’d rarely used,
or hadn’t intended but meant;
surprising,
how deeply, unconsciously,
intuition can reach in and excavate
truth: 

I am going on a journey,
packing my suitcase;
Where is my ticket? My taxi? My train?
I must wear my best dress; Joe’s coming
to dance with me; I must go
to the garden, it’s harvest time;
I’m leaving soon…
I watched

and listened.

And their elemental essence would ebb,
would almost shimmer away, blood pooling
around the heart, breath slowing,
spirit slipping out and rising
free of gravity, then gone
with love (as death).

I watched and listened.

The air, filled with
the scent of parting:
gratitude, forgiveness, regret,
stillness,
a terrible and fierce
absence that, once felt,
became light.

Death is love; it is handmaiden to life.

And now we sit
at the bedside of the world,
aware, long before the diagnosis
was announced,
the time for farewell
has come for many things.

Let us watch together,
surrender what must die,
and listen
for the language
death (as love) will weave,
a tapestry,
symbols and metaphors,
a light-filled world
not beyond
but here.

Death (as love) is near and,
always, handmaiden
to life.

 

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.

15 thoughts on “Near Death Awareness

    1. Thank you, Jaime; it’s kind of you to visit and share your thoughts. I hope you’re safe and well; gentle peace.

  1. We carry so many hurts from the past.
    Can we just toss the burdens overboard?
    To be light and free to live the present fully,
    Let’s die to the past everyday, every second…

    1. Thank you for visiting and sharing, Shiva; it is always delightful to hear from you. Yes, life is lived in the present, isn’t it? Stay safe and well and merry, Kitty

    1. Hi, Paola, thank you for writing. I’ll send you an e-mail. I’m unable to take on any more projects just now, but I’ll send the details. Be safe and well. Gentle peace, Paola.

    1. Thank you, dear one; I hope the tears were healing more than upsetting to your sweet heart…I’m glad you liked the photo I used. The river can be evocative of so many moods and feelings. I send love to you, dear one, and hope your days are washed in joy and peace. xoxo

  2. First tears I’ve shed, and I think they are healing tears, that photo could stand alone in a post…..there are no words to describe it…simply beautiful! Love and hugs to one and all, stay safe, everyone of you! Here’s to the book! Hope it’s a bestseller, shame you haven’t earned a penny!!! I may start a a campaign!!! xxx

    1. No worries. “The poem” has, through no power of my own, traveled all over the world and offered more comfort and inspiration than money could ever buy…and that’s amazing and wonderful. What’s just as special to me, is that friends who know me–like you, dear one–actually visit and encourage my other writing. To be reduced to just “the poem” would be dispiriting, for all the good it’s done. So thank you, thank you, forever.

  3. Mrs. Omeara,

    This work is mesmerizing. As a stage IIIC breast cancer warrior, it resonates. I stumbled across your blog looking for your contact information, and I have gone down the rabbit hole. I can now see why so many people have connected with your poem about the pandemic. Your writing, while unique in style, has a universality and empathy about it.

    During the COVID-19 crisis, I have also been inspired to write. I am a theatre director at a rural college in Ohio, and the pandemic forced our small theatre to go dark. We were rehearsing a production of Wendy Kesselman’s The Diary of Anne Frank. Although our situation can not compare to what Anne and the Jewish people went through during the Holocaust, I found that my cast and crew were connecting more to their characters now that they were sheltering-in-place. I asked them to start keeping diaries, like Anne. I would like to fuse their diaries with some media surrounding the pandemic, creating a docudrama … a sliver of our humanity during this challenging time.

    I would love to include your pandemic poem within the docudrama. It has made such a mark on the world. Perhaps we can connect via email, and I could tell you a bit more about the project.

    Thanks for sharing your gifts,

    Rainee Angles

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