Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Life as a Travel Agent

On a recent morning I was at work and as one of my patients was waiting for his death, I thought again about an idea that keeps popping into my head... the thought that I am now some sort of a travel agent, someone who's main job is to assist travelers as they prepare for a big, big trip.

My patient, thanks to good medications, was reaching a level of comfort.  He knew it was almost time for his departure.  His daughter was by his side.  She wasn't going with him but she wanted to wait with him until it was time for him to go.  She was sad because she knew she was going to miss him, but she was happy for him because she knew he was going somewhere very lovely and exciting.  Although she couldn't travel with him at this time, she expected to join him at a later date.  

Together, they waited and waited and waited.  It reminded me of a train station.  I don't think in terms of the grim reaper or anything like that.  I was thinking of an elegant train that was coming and he was the only passenger at our station who was waiting to board at that time.  The station seemed pretty empty to me, but our traveler reported there were "a lot of people" present.  Just because I did not see them does not mean they were not there.

Although this traveler was originally reluctant to make this trip, as the train approached, he was ready.  In fact, I think maybe his mother was already on that train, coming to escort him to his destination.  I think this because he thought he saw her; he was watching for her.

His daughter left the room for a few minutes.  It wasn't long before I saw the train coming, I could hear it, I could see it, I could almost feel the ground trembling... almost.  I stepped away from our traveler for just a few moments to summon her so she could hug him good-bye.   I knew it was important to her to be present when he climbed aboard.  I could see pain in her eyes but she smiled as she approached him and held his hand.  She did not try to stop him from going.  Her husband joined her for the send-off and they were ready to say good-bye.  When they reassured me they were prepared, I quietly left their side.

When I returned, the train was just pulling out from the station.  The traveler's daughter was crying and smiling at the same time.  Her husband held her close.  It was quiet.  It was peaceful.  We all felt we'd just been very close to something amazing, something we could not yet fully understand.