In the early years of the HIV pandemic death was a constant companion of those infected and affected. And the real scandal was that young people were dying, those life still in front of them. In our days death has been put on the backseat and an average person being on anti-retroviral treatment has a good chance to live a life as long as anybody else. But I guess this does not exempt us from thinking about our relationship with brother death and how we once want to be found by him. Life the life to the fullest every day, I was once again reminded to this old saying and advice receiving note of a friend’s wife being killed in a car accident. Still the smiling, gracious and loving person in the afternoon and all gone within hours after a horrible accident. Shocking and one tries to find words to comfort the man having lost his love of his life – almost impossible. Death has shortcut a relationship which was due to last decades longer and no words, nothing can really prepare for such a moment.
Several hours after receiving the shocking news I had to phone a previous chair-lady of my Parish council when I was still working in Germany. She was death sick, refused further treatment and here I spoke with someone who indicated that she knows every bit of being a dying person, not knowing how much suffering more will come before the kiss of death will relieve her from pain and all the worries coming with it. A family stretched to the limits to accommodate the last days of the mom, mother in law, grandmother and whatever role she took else on in her life. Once again, death seemed to come inconvenient, even when he knocked on the door in advance to make his presence felt.
So how do we want to die – announced or as a surprise to all? Silent in bed or a dramatic farewell in life? How do we prepare for this moment? Maybe in helping each other to live life to the fullest much more than we do in the moment. Living in the presence, not already thinking of the future and what we might be able to do, to say… Maybe in having less regrets and more happiness, fewer fights and more joy? Maybe in reconciling in the eve to make sure there will be no bitter feeling if one is on the way out that very night?
And maybe in understanding that we live on borrowed time, that we don’t own our life or that of our family, our children, our friends, but are invited to take part for a while before they or we move on to higher service. Whatever comes when we close our eyes may come as a surprise to many of us – I am curious to know, but I hope I still have lots of time before knowing it for sure. Life is so precious, let’s take time to live life and not to be lived by a life we think others expect from us.