Last week the sister-in-law of a good friend woke up, did her morning rituals, went to work, and while seated at her desk in the shop she and her husband owned, was struck by a truck doing 90 miles an hour that plowed into their new building, seriously injuring her and three others. She ended the day in ICU, in an induced coma after brain surgery, with many stunned and horrified loved ones praying for a non-tragic outcome, one that seemed painfully remote.
The world is a scary and unpredictable place.
When she awoke that morning, she had no idea it was the last day of the life she had known. When you’re told, Sarah’s brain has been badly wounded. Even if she pulls through, she won’t really seem like Sarah any more, and she’ll need lots and lots and lots of love and support., what do you pray for?
This week’s reading recounts the trail and encampments between leaving slavery and perching on the banks of the River Jordan. So close to The Promised Land. The end of book four and the gateway to the last section of Torah.
If today were the last day of your life, what would you do?
Would you want to know that it was or not?
And what happens in a coma anyhow? It’s the other side of a veil. Not Game of Thrones Vale. More like valley of the shadow of death. A place where our normal processes don’t work the way they do in our usual dimensions. Maybe it’s quiet and floaty; no worries. The kind of harmony that Jill Bolte Taylor describes in My Stroke of Insight, after her left-brain stroke catapulted her into a full-on right brain, no rules of logic needed, nirvana experience. Or perhaps it’s the opposite, some hyper-aware inner state, where you’re in there knowing what’s happened and unable to scream or cry.
Most of us have much more accessible and nuanced ways of thinking about our lives. We cherish the best of our past and hope the best for our future. Staying in each present moment is still a goal for most of us, but not one we’d likely grab for if the cost were trauma and coma. We yearn for simple sweet stillness, not chaos and tragedy.
I pray she wakes up Sarah. That the rehab is manageable and that she’s glad to come back. But I wouldn’t judge her if she said, You know what? I’ve come a long way to get here. Many encampments on this journey. I like what I’ve done and been. I like myself. I’ve loved and been loved. Yes there’s things I’d hoped to see and do. But there’s also pain and losses that I’m being spared. I’m ready to cross that river now.
It helps to believe in eternal souls. And in reincarnation, even if circumstances, looks, and personalities will different, and your karma travels with you. Mostly, it helps to be at peace with yourself. I’m not saying not to have hopes and goals. And certainly not to fret about when lightning’s gonna strike.
But if today were your last day, would you go out happy?