On Christmas day evening we lost our sister-in-law, Sharon. Despite our efforts and those of a number of EMTs, doctors and nurses, we could not save her. This was a profoundly sad, and disturbing event, and we already miss her terribly. From the first moment till the very end six hours later, it was surreal and time stopping. We wish the best to her husband, my brother, Brian and all of her family. While we were able to meet her wonderful daughters, we are also deeply sorry for their loss. I will never forget the times we had, and one in particular comes to mind. On a day when Brian and I struggled up Crater Lake in the century bike ride, stopping for a break at one lookout, who should appear but Sharon and Sue with much needed cheer and encouragement.
I learned a number of things during this intense period that seemed as if it would never end, and it has not.
1. The EMTs from the Eugene Fire Department, the emergency room, and ICU doctors and nurses, in a life or death situation were some of the most compassionate and deeply caring people I have met in a long time. These people reminded me just how loving people can be.
2. The family room in the ICU, where people come to live or die, offers a perspective unlike any other for noticing reality. This perspective says that life is all about relationship, with family, friends and all sentient beings. Virtually nothing else matters.
3. You can actually see life. On two occasions while I was doing chest compresions, I looked right in her eyes and briefly saw awareness, recognition and life. I will never forget that. It was both profoundly disturbing and awakening at the same time.
4. On several occasions I wondered how much we are capable of sharing another's pain. At one moment while we sat in the family room, a "code blue" was called. As we stepped into the hallway, we met a woman who, like us, thought it was her loved one. As we met her, Sue took her hand, and said: "I hope it's not yours." It wasn't, it was ours. Her heart had stopped again.. Shortly after, it started on it's own, an event which the doctor termed a "Christmas miracle." It did not last. And Sue and I shared this moment with Brian, all three of us deeply saddened, worried and lost, yet locked in an intimate relationship that can never be broken. We will be there for you and your family.
5. We are not the body. This was very clear.
6.There is a line in the new Hobbit movie something to the effect of, speaking of love, "Why does it hurt so bad (when you lose it). Because it is so real." This was so real, and surreal at the same time.
7. As we left Riverbend Hospital, we found a very cute kitten in the parking lot, a very unusual place to find a cat.
8. And finally, it occured to me, considering the endless compassion and love exhibited by many, many humans in those hours; that it is time that we all became this-it is what we are; and the materialism, greed and lies need to end. Another Christmas and we are still killing one another. It is just time.
Rest in peace, Sharon and peace to your family.