When someone close to you is dying, do you feel sadness and fear because that is a natural response? Or is part of what you feel because of what is says about your own mortality?
I say it's both.
As I write this, a cousin in New Orleans is in hospice care. He almost died three nights ago. Doctors say there is nothing else they can do for him other than to make him comfortable.
I had already booked a flight there to see him but I don't even know if he'll still be alive. I don't know if he'll want to see anyone.
My head is swimming with sadness over his situation and regrets that I didn't spend more time with him over the past few decades. Those thoughts and emotions are stirred by an underlying dread about my own mortality. I'm not all that afraid to die - I've led an awesome life - but I've got a lot more living to do.
He and I spent a lot of time together in our youth. He was sometimes a prankster and still has a great sense of humor. I did spend some quality time with him during 'cousin reunions' over the past ten years. I saw him at the funerals of both of my parents; but I wasn't at the funeral of either of his parents. I barely know his wife and I don't know his children. A shit-ton of regret is flowing over me right now.
Ok, so he didn't especially keep in touch with me either, but that's not the point. I'm the one who was basically invisible from my family and old friends while chasing my career dreams all over the country.
Anyway, I have two hopes right now. One, that I see him alive this weekend. Two, that I do everything I can to spend time with loved ones while they are alive and healthy and not just when they're dying.