With equal measure devotion and dread, you bravely assess what lies ahead:
The burdens beyond bedcare,
The fickleness of family,
The detritus, the very dailyness, of dying,
The ambivalence of holding on while letting go,
The ambiguity of “transitioning.” Transitioning toward what?
The loneliness of leaving,
The grief that surrounds me, and its unfettered expression,
Above all, the lifechapter with no sequel
Which illuminates our mortality.
With equal measure grace and grit, you warmly commence the caring:
The palliative power of total presence,
The ineffable honesty, be it blunt, brutal or beautiful,
The irony of humor, the humor of irony,
The surprising re-tiltings of relationships,
The stability you bring to this time of transition,
The dignity you bring to my growing dependence
The catharsis of acceptance.
Above all, the one vocation for which we can never fully prepare,
Which illuminates this flickering life.
For your kindnesses we see, and those others we may not,
We the dying thank you.
For stamina in this struggle, in which no atom of your being goes untested,
We the dying say,
Care first for the caregiver. This life, such as it is, depends on you as never before — as never again.
Take comfort in the inevitable. The one terminal condition we can celebrate is life itself.
We the dying can ask no more.