Thursday, November 30, 2023

#334 / We Just Lost Someone Great

Pictured above is Hadley Vlahos. She is a hospice nurse who cares for those who are dying, and she has written a book about her work, The In Between

Vlahos has also been interviewed by David Marchese, for his "Talk" column in The New York Times Magazine. Marchese's discussion with Vlados focuses, in significant part, on Valdos' convinction that there is some kind of something, some realm, some existence, that we encounter once we have died. In other words, Vlados believes that there is some kind of "afterlife." Marchese is skeptical, but respectful, and Vlados is the opposite of dogmatic about her own understandings of this "other room," as she characterizes it. 

If you can penetrate The Times' paywall, I certainly think that the two-page discussion between Marchese and Vlahos is a worthwhile read. Online, it is headlined, "A Hospice Nurse on Embracing the Grace of Dying."

Here is the little snippet from the article that I thought most affecting, and worthy of this blog posting: 

Is it hard to let go of other people’s sadness and grief at the end of a day at work? Yeah. There’s this moment, especially when I’ve taken care of someone for a while, where I’ll walk outside and I’ll go fill up my gas tank and it’s like: Wow, all these other people have no idea that we just lost someone great. The world lost somebody great, and they’re getting a sandwich. It is this strange feeling. I take some time, and mentally I say: “Thank you for allowing me to take care of you. I really enjoyed taking care of you.” Because I think that they can hear me (emphasis added in the text).

With or without asserting any certainty about an "afterlife," this statement touches on a reality that is often not really acknowledged. For me, what Vlahos says is a reminder of those lines I love from one of Ugo Betti's plays: 

That's what's needed, don't you see? That! Nothing else matters half so much. To reassure one another. To answer each other. Perhaps only you can listen to me and not laugh. Everyone has, inside himself ... what shall I call it? A piece of good news! Everyone is ... a very great, very important character! Yes, that's what we have to tell them up there! Every man must be persuaded - even if he is in rags - that he's immensely, immensely important! 

I have cited to Ugo Betti and The Burnt Flower-Bed more than once in this blog. This link takes you to my most recent reference. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all realize the truth of these words - about ourselves, and about others, too?

When I'm gone, I hope someone will think this thought about me: "The world just lost somebody great." Let's all think that thought when we learn that someone we know, and care about, has died. I don't think that any of us should ever forget the truth to which both Hadley Vlahos and Ugo Betti testify. Every one of us is "someone," is "important," is "great." 

So, thank you David Marchese and Hadley Vlahos for this reminder (and thanks to Ugo Betti, too, of course)!

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if there is an afterlife, but twice when I was meditating shortly after someone I knew, not well, had died, I got what felt like a message from these recently passed to give to their loved one.


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