I, like all of you, am often asked if this work makes me sad. Does spending day after day steeped in that facet of life so hidden in plain sight, so pervasive and yet taboo as death wear upon a soul? My answer is for the most part “no.” I, like all of you, have found a way to live with and to understand death so that watching it, living in its wake, is no longer much of a struggle. But when I answer “no” like any conclusive statement, I am only telling a half truth. Leaving out kids and tragedy, the thing that tears me up about this job is often the good stuff, the things we would call “wins.” The mock wedding that takes place months before the real thing so grandma can watch her first grandchild tie the knot, the last trip to the casino, the few bites of a treasured recipe, a few pulls of a final smoke or tugs off a bottle of beer. These last events that few and lucky people choose to experience before their time on this earth ends. These things have always made me sad. To me they seem too small to cap lives, too forced to be authentic, too pathetic to mark the end of a person’s time on this earth, oh but
do I know.
There seems to be more going on in these last hurrahs than meets the eye. They seem to be less about the experience itself and more about the life that has been lived. Less about the taste of the particular meal and more about all the dinners shared with loved ones over the years. Less about a few hours pouring coins into a shiny box and more about the jackpots won, the adventures lived. These last experiences are slivers of beauty past, small resurrections before the death. These last things breathe a bit of life back into dying bones and ensure that nothing is wasted, they truly become occasions for great joy.