Aunty Mu tells me that the hardest thing about reaching 98 is losing all one’s peers. I’m losing some already, so I’m starting to know what she means. Already I am finding that it’s not easy to know what to say to someone who has been sentenced to death by medical diagnosis. In the moment that this happens they cross an invisible line, beyond which no words seem to survive the platitude test.
When Mona received her diagnosis I was with her, trying to help her decipher the medical labyrinth of possiblitities. I thought she would have told them to leave her alone to die in her own holistic way, so ardent had been her lifelong commitment to the organic. But no chance. In the end she opted for every intrusive, poisonous and viciously painful treatment on offer, in her attempt to stay alive . Even so she caught the noon train in the end and went in (possibly)only a slightly extended time after her diagnosis. I know one can’t hypothesise about such things but I like to think I would, in the event of the untoward, catch the noon train without the drama and pain that the medical profession profers in exchange for extra minutes on the material plane.
Back to the problems of talking to those diagnosed as dying (as opposed to those of us taking pot luck). What can you do, other than pretend that it isn’t happening, as no words can bridge the gap. Visiting is like turning up in a Lambourgini to visit someone living in a shack. No, it’s not- as you could , should you be so inclined, hand the shack dweller your car and say’ buy yourself a house with this’. But in the presence of impending death, no stuff is of any value. It is here that the crossover point lies. Best stay silent, for words have already lost their power at the moment of diagnosis. From this point on only the moments matter and the wherewithall to deal with the imponderables.
So whether one knows the noon train is waiting or not, now is the time to sink into the origin…to clean space, free from distractions and come face to face with the eternal thus accepting the inevitable sooner rather than later. Ageing forces the issue at every step. It encourages the cultivation of one’s garden. Time for contemplation and acceptance. It is, after all, the same noon train that transports us all sooner or later.