Friday, July 30, 2010

Who You Are.

Death has become a peculiar thing.

It's something that people do not like to think about - especially Americans. As a self-centered nation, we don't think that it will ever really happen to us, or even happen around us. And yet, it does. Every single day, it does.

And because we don't think about death, we don't think about the consequences of how we behave.

"What do you mean I have lung cancer?!"

"Well, sir, you have smoked for the past 30 years of your life..."

Because we don't think about death, we don't consider our everlasting impressions.

"I hate you".

"Well, sweetheart, I don't hate you."

Because we don't think about death, we don't imagine what it will be like to suffer in the end. Maybe from cancer... maybe from old age... maybe from a terrible car accident. Either way, no one really talks about it, and in the end, too often than not, life is not treated with dignity.

I recently watched the movie, "Wit", and was surprised at how accurate the film portrayed hospital life. Unbelievably accurate. The movie is based on a middle-aged woman dying from cancer. She agrees to be a part of very intense chemotherapy treatments, but to no avail. This woman goes from being a highly esteemed scholar, to just another "no-name" in a hospital full of people who are "too busy". In the end, there are two main conclusions:

(1) This woman has a revelation that she could have been kinder throughout her life, and regrets all the time she spent working on intellectual "wit", instead of building any kind of relationship. The person with her at her death (and subsequently, the only visitor she ever received) was her advisor from her PhD studies.

And (2), as the hospital messes up her DNR status due to a faulty resident, she is stripped of her clothes and CPR is begun. This pursues even though it is obvious to the audience that she has been dead for quite a while now. In death, not only is she alone, but her dignity is taken from her. The only person who is remotely close to being her advocate is her beloved nurse, who has taken great care of her. The nurse yells for everyone to leave as she shows them all the DNR. Everyone makes their remarks under their breath, which sound so childish as the watcher has become close to this now, dead, woman. The nurse covers her up, and tries to fix the situation as best as possible. This flashes the watchers brain back to 20 minutes prior when the resident chuckles and asks the beloved nurse with an arrogant tone, "What do they even teach you in nursing school?"

Life goes on for everyone. The woman is remembered for her scholarly contribution. There are no children, no friends, no lover... nothing. Now, I cannot say this in itself is a bad thing. An individual chooses how their life is going to play out (most of the time), and so we are able to choose what we are to be remembered for. And so I leave you with this last and final thought:

Who you are in this life, will be utterly obvious, in your death.

No comments: