Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Between the Dark and the Flame

On the weekends, if it is nice outside, I like to have a fire after dark. No great shakes, just a few sticks, a couple logs wreathed in flames in my tiny fire pit. It usually doesn’t take long to get the fire going, and once the wood is caught and burning on its own, I’ll plop down in my lawn chair, kick my feet up on an over turned 5 gallon bucket like the class act I am, grab a cold beverage and take a sip. It never fails that before I can take a second pull, the flames have begun to die out, the fire grown too hot, the wind turned kicking a column of smoke in my eyes, or the logs need to be shifted else those ever fragile flames may burn out.
                The entire night will go this way. I’ll get the fire just how I like it, have enough time to sit back and enjoy the warmth for a moment before something changes and I need to move again. A constant recalibration, a dancing with the chaotic flames, all of which done just to maintain that sweet spot, that elusive place of the burning flames and the cold night meeting to produce comfort and warmth.
                google image search Sometimes I think that is what we do: we help people find the sweet spot around the death bed. The place where a family member can show their care and love for the dying, but with enough help and support that they don’t get burnt by the pain. We help the dying find where they can be with the ones they love, the place they can occupy at the end of life so that they don’t get left out in the cold. It is a moving target, ebbing and flowing with the fluidity of love and memory. The art of our craft is to help find that spot between the dark and the flame, where families and patients can live and move and love and die in the warmth and comfort of each other’s care.

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