A lesson about living from the dying.

There are times when I complain about not being given enough time to make a decent campaign. And then I met those who only had a few weeks to live.

That was the thought running in my head while my partner and I got involved in a charity project for hospice care. We spent several weeks talking to patients and their families, caregivers, nurses and hospice staff. It was emotionally draining to say the least (in a way, it dampened my happy birthday mood). Although, death is not an alien concept in my family, having a few loved ones who had passed on, I still can’t help being affected by the reality that surrounded me. Death looming on every bed. Casting it’s shadow on an old man abandoned by his family. Playing hide and seek with a 3-year-old girl who’s just learning to play with other children like her. Yes there were children and old folks, and people my age. All with terminal illness and given a prognosis of 6 months or less. Yet in spite of their condition, they manage to laugh and find joy in the littlest of things. You’d think in a place where futures are measured in mere months, hope is the last thing you’ll find. But no. We found it in the patients whose faces light up when we take their pictures, in the caregivers and nurses who speak with so much love for what they do and the people they care for.

And here we are, most of the time, consumed by work and bills. Thinking our work is the most important job and the world. Defining our lives by the amount of recognition we receive. Pursuing happiness with every swipe of our credit cards. (And starting each sentence with a participle. Intense emotions really do things to my brain…)

An exercise like this truly gives one a different perspective. What it also does is prepare yourself for that final journey. For me, it’s like being told, don’t hold back. Do everything you can today for others and for yourself too. Do it like it’s the last chance you’ve got because you never know.

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