Most of us enjoy sunsets. We'll pause to marvel at the exuberant color and texture brought on by the day's death. Some of us make a ritual of stopping for the sunset, taking a seat to watch the show with a beverage at hand.
Why then do so many of us falter when faced with our loved ones' final days?
An uncle on my mother's side of the family lays in an ICU not all that far from here. Pneumonia. (Not Covid, not that it matters at this point.) The prognosis is grim. No one is allowed in to see him or sit with him or hold his hand. Not even his wife, my aunt. This is the part that Covid has stolen from us - the comfort and distraction of loved ones at a dying man's side. And you'd think that at this moment, that would be my aunt's sole occupation - worrying over her dying husband.
It isn't. It isn't, because it can't be. Not here. Not now. Not in this world where our lives have been forever altered by pandemic. No, at this moment, my aunt's worries are the business of dying. Who will pay the hospital bills. Where are the living will documents the doctors need should someone have to make the decision to pull life support. It's all lists and hurry and busy work.
There's no time (or safety) to sit at my uncle's bedside and pause of the final exuberant flush of life. Even without Covid, while we could sit at bedsides, most of us did so as a means of talking over death. We made timid small talk and watched shitty hospital TV to avoid the specter of death, no matter how close it hovered.
I don't say any of this to propose any kind of solution. Other than to maybe pause for a moment at endings of all kinds because sometimes there's breathtaking beauty to be found there.