Death is selfish. It lurks in the shadows. It hides in a realm of certainty, somewhere between acceptance and denial, and it feeds on our inability to process its inevitability. It waits for nobody. It heeds its own agenda and it gives no signs of compassion. It simply reaps.
Last week we had a senior’s bus tour at the lodge. Unlike the previous tours, we had neither mildly concussed nor toppled our guests on top of one other. The tour had been relatively trauma-free with the exception of a phone call a mere fifteen minutes after the bus arrived and our guests had been shown to their rooms.
Death had been hovering at the precipice and chose to include us in its folly with one phone call for the sister of its intended victim shortly after she arrived at the lodge. What should have been a glorious adventure for Kathleen suddenly turned into a feeling of helplessness and isolation as she mourned the loss of her sister surrounded by a group of strangers.
But even in the face of sadness, there was no surprise in discovering that the group of strangers had chosen to embrace Kathleen and take on a part of her burden as their own. As much as death wanted to be the headliner in this performance, the supporting cast was truly the star of the show.
Fellow travelers and staff made every effort to ease Kathleen’s suffering and reunited her with her family before the bus was due to leave the lodge. It takes a village – and this village had a great deal of empathy and ingenuity. Kathleen was able to reconnect with her family and attend her sister’s funeral. And although she was missed on that last day of the bus tour, we knew she was where she needed to be and she knew we all held her in our thoughts and prayers.
Death is selfish. And although it may be a part of life, so is love and compassion.