Is it tacky to admit I’ve fantasized about what scenario would crack me? Would it be a child, an overdose, a homicide, someone who kinda looks like my husband? Suicide? Car wreck?
Exactly two months after starting my apprenticeship, I brought a 60-year-old woman into our care. Her family was wonderful – loving, present, involved in helping me move her to the cot and out to the van. We had a peaceful drive together to the funeral home, and an easy transfer to her cremation container.
When I removed her sheet, I froze.
Her toes were perfectly manicured. Like, better than JLo’s toes in The Wedding Planner when she had that stupid neck accident. I managed to say, “oh” before my vision blurred.
Why this? Why this absolute nothing moment and not the autopsied gentleman I hoovered out the week prior?
BECAUSE I SAW GOD IN THOSE FEET. No, I saw a woman who, despite a debilitating disease, still cared what the toes under her fleece socks looked like. A woman who hunched over to avoid the swelling in her stomach, the stab of her catheter, and the exposure of her hospice bed to touch brush to toe.
I cried because I knew exactly what her feet would have looked like sandaled in Hawaii or Arizona or Florida – her favorite places.
I cried because it made death feel even more chaotic. That she, this put-together woman swarmed by family, is sharing cooler space next to someone who was down in his bedroom for 3 weeks, half-dressed, completely alone.
If death is the great equalizer, what does that make life?
I finally cried. Over a foot.