The 11th hour is as dramatic as it sounds. The final moments before someone takes their last breath, slipping from our world into the vast unknown. Am I strong enough to weather the storm or the immense quiet of the aftermath? Can I emit a loving, kind and gentle enough soul, to sit in experience with another during their transition? I am not sure of the answer, but I plan to find out.
We all have ideas around the concept of death and dying. What happens when we transition out of the world we have been brave enough to call home for many years. Some of us are afraid of the void, the infinite darkness we assume awaits us. Yet others find solace in the concept, believing it will free them of the pain (physical or emotional) they have been bound to for too long. Whether you are an atheist or a devout Christian, I am sure you have pondered the weight the idea, of the end of time. For you, for another or both.
I have grieved over the loss of many loved ones in my lifetime thus far. The void they leave behind sits heavily on my heart. I have been witness to the dying process and at one point in my life, I laid beside another living being and literally felt him take his last breath. In that moment, I swore I would never do it again. I felt as though avoiding and ignoring the inevitable would make it less frightening. Would make it less difficult; less sad. I have known others who have taken the same path; turning a blind eye.
In 2010, I stopped breathing in an emergency care unit. I had a brush with death and to me, it felt like a dark void of nothingness. It frightened me, beyond words. However, here I am many years later accessing the opportunity of becoming a companion and an 11th hour volunteer for a local hospice here in Colorado. So, why now am I walking toward it vs running away? There are more people than you think, who find themselves alone in their darkest hour of need. Their family nor friends are there for them, either because they cannot be, or because they refuse to be. No one should have to spend their last hours feeling alone or unloved.
If I can provide a soft voice, a gentle hand, a kind smile or offer even just the simplicity of my presence; I feel called to do so. No matter what your beliefs are, the truth will be laid bare in the moment of your 11th hour. How you chose to transition is not experienced in a silo, but is affected by those who do or do not gather around you. If I can bring a touch of light into someone’s 11th hour, I will be truly humbled. So, I plan to conquer my fears in an attempt to be there for a fellow being.
I believe each person I meet will leave a mark on my heart and I can only hope I will be strong enough to endure when they no longer can.