One of the things I've tried to do with driving for the American Cancer Society is to face my own fears. Cancer is a frequent cause of death in my family. It's killed or contributed to the demise of three grandparents and a couple of great aunts and uncles. It's even affected my sisters. It will probably kill me.
The worst part about driving is watching from the sidelines as brittle lives collapse under the weight of sustained strain. It's painful and demoralizing to see men and women with grown children and spouses essentially facing their end almost alone. It's not just poverty --though sure, I've seen plenty of that. It's witnessing the forced poverty of the human spirit.
This is the future I fear the most. It's not the dying. Everybody dies. It's after a life spent as a father, friend and husband being too much of a bother to help any more. It's seeing that no matter what you give, how much you try, in the end it comes down to how much the people around you are willing to put up with. From what I've seen, if you linger too long, you inevitably cross a threshold and exhaust their patience and kindness. Love becomes detached by exhaustion and guilt. They start quietly hoping you'll die, just so they can start to heal from the grief.
Be the change you wish to see in the world.
I'd like my world to be a little kinder. I'd like when the end comes for me, there's someone there who doesn't mind so much. I'd like to be able to tell my stupid stories to an audience and if I want to feel lousy about circling the drain, it should be okay. I'd like to feel like there's still enough time to make one more friend.
So, I contacted Hospice and asked if I could volunteer. I don't have much in the way of skills to offer, but I can hang out. I can help with errands. I can listen. I can even talk if they want me to. I can be company and I can wait with them.
So, that's just what I'm gonna do.