Wednesday, July 1, 2015

In Our Place

There is a couple who live across the street from me, a husband and wife. He’s 91, she’s 90. She’s a talker, he hardly says a word. They’re Polish immigrants who fled horrors at home to make a home in this country. A few weeks ago, as my dear wife was waddling her way down the street and through the end of her third trimester carrying our daughter, the wife in the couple across the way called out in her thick Polish accent: “When is the baby due?” “Anytime now,” my wife replied. Quietly, almost under his breath, the husband who was sitting next to his wife on the porch leaned in and said: “Our replacement.” Meaning, I believe, that as his time on this earth draws to an end, our little girl will fill the spot he had occupied. She will take up the vacant space left behind when he sheds his mortal coil. Most people will never see their life in this vein; most people will never understand their death as making space for new life, the end of their possibility opening up avenues for others. Most people will never think about the gift and blessing it is for one life to give way to the other, but it is a gift and blessing nonetheless. The beautiful thing about our world, its endless hope, is that the hole left behind after a death will be filled again, that every death makes way for new and expansive life. In helping people die, in easing the pain of their transition and allowing their final moments to be peaceful, we honor that last noble act. We provide blessing for the final selflessness, we allow one world to fade away gentle as new universes burst into existence.
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