a Barak & Sheba Article

By Just a Day...
Thursday Oct 29, 2015

There is a story. A Zen Koan that I once read. The long and short of it is this: A woman comes to the town's Rinpoche, which is the town's monk advisor and teacher. The woman has been grieving for her dead son for months and cannot get past the grief. She seeks his counsel and a possible cure. The Wise Monk informs her that he knows a cure for her grief and sends her on a quest to find the final ingredient: a mustard seed from a house where death has never been - no family members, relatives, children, friends, no one.

She walks throughout the land, trying to find a dwelling where death has not touched. Each and every home has lived through some loss. Finally after months of searching, she comes to the realization that death has touched everyone and it is a part of life. She returns to the Monk, still saddened by her loss, but knowing she is not alone.

As an emergency room nurse, I see death and dying more than most. While I do my best to be push back the Reaper's hand, I am but a nurse. And when the hourglass runs out - as it does for us all - there is no more sand to left to fall. No more life to ignite the flame. I see the families grieving and the spouses of the departed. I bear witness to the tearful faces and the agony of realization. I do my best to comfort those who need.

One night, not so long ago, Sheba and I were discussing this very thing. Earlier that night in my ER, a man had died. He had been young... barely older than me. And his wife, a little younger. His death was unexpected, tragic. She was not prepared. Her life was utterly shattered.

Even though I have seen death take people in many different ways, time after time, I had been surprised by this one. For some reason, I identified with this man more than I did anyone who had passed before. Perhaps it was his build... maybe it was the way he died... Perhaps it was his tattoos... his boots... his hands... but it was certainly there. And, shockingly, I saw something of Sheba in this woman.

Regardless, I called Sheba, and we talked briefly. When I came home, I immediately went to the couch where she was sitting, sat close, and we held each other. I needed her touch. To feel that she was still with me. To know our connection was real. Alive. Loving. Cared For. We looked at each other for long moments.

When we finally leaned apart, I told her that I was going to make a list. It would assure that she had access to all my assets. To verify that if something ever happened to me, she would be taken care of. I made sure she would be able to access my life insurance policies. To know my wishes, and to be sure that even after my death, she would be ok.

As I was rambling on and on, I felt her finger on my lips. gently. softly. Her eyes brimming.. She gazed at me lovingly. deeply. She said, "You have to promise." I waited... She continued, "You have to promise not to die until after me. I wouldn't want to live without you."

I cried. I can't say how long. I held her close. My love. My rock. My partner. My Best Friend. And when my sobs and tears finally abated... she was waiting. She kissed me softly. And finally, I found my voice once more, "I will do my best to keep that as a promise..." and as I thought about it... I whispered to her, "But by just a day..."

Barak & Sheba

©2015 Barak & Brat Sheba

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