My boyfriend Bob's dad Ernie died last night. He was 80. I met him for the first time earlier this month. Then saw him on Sunday. Now, he's gone.
Ernie was diagnosed with cancer a year ago or so. He had ups and downs with it, but nine days ago, no longer able to handle food or water through a stomach shunt, he refused IV feeding and set his heart towards death. He had made his decision. His children and wife all were able to say goodbye. He had last rites. Now, his life as Ernie has ended.
This is the closest I've ever been to someone going through the process of dying. This is the first time I've really ever gazed into a person's eyes who knows with certainty that they have only a few days left to take breaths--inhaling and exhaling, a specific countable number of times and then no more. It's kind of amazing and a little scary to see deeply into a person who is consciously holding their mortality in mind.
Of course, we all have a limited number of breaths. But most of us are pretty clueless as to how many breaths we have left. We could die tomorrow or in 40 years.
Thinking about Ernie this morning, I resolved to do better with how I use my time—not wasting so much on selfish little things like slacking and watching TV. I resolved to do more for others. If I've learned anything this semester it's that left to my own devices, I can get very selfish and that doesn't feel good. I really am working to get out of my head. I hope the change will be apparent in this blog. More on that later
For now, tae Ernie, a kind and gracious man. He was an intellectual and an outdoorsman, a father and a husband, and I've heard quite funny, too. I'm glad I met him.