happy death

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alone, not lonely

During my last tour of duty at the hospital, we received two patients at the Emergency Room, both with critical thermal burns secondary to massive electrical shock. One would need immediate surgery for his wounds, but he will live to tell his tale. Unfortunately for his companion, he was not as fortunate. In his demise, he leaves behind a very young son, his wife and their unborn child. He was called to work on the day that he was supposed to be off duty and was just called to fix a broken connection. He died in the line of duty.

I have been witness to so many deaths in the ER that sometimes I feel that my conscience is numb. But every time I talk to their loved ones left behind I am reminded that they are not just another body headed for the morgue as each death has a story to tell, each one of them before their untimely demise was someone else’s father, mother, sister, brother or friend.

Nothing prepares you for the inevitable. Like they say, it comes like a thief in the night and I should know. And it’s not from the stuff they teach you in med school. It’s something closer to home. Three years ago, I’ve lost my sister. And just as we were recovering picking up the pieces, just a year ago, it was my father who has left us. But the tears have been shed and we have learned to move on.

Then I remember..

At one time in my life I lived amongst priests. It was during my med school days. I stayed in a, what is called a Salesian House, the Don Bosco Hall, run by priests, the Salesians of Don Bosco. I stayed here primarily because the rent was reasonable and the location was good, just a walking distance away from school.

There were a lot of activities for the many residents (as we were called) of the Hall for learning and recreation including afternoon basketball games at the roof deck, interactions with the all girl school run by the nuns, weekly in house mass and night prayers. Plus other activities outside like watching movies and playing billiards, the rector’s treat.

But there was an activity that really stood out for me: the preparation for a happy death. The mechanics was simple. Think of today as the last day of your life. Then it was all up to you.

And people would do it differently I noticed, some would be quiet, not their usual boisterous behavior while others would spend the day playing ball, still, others prayed. Some, like me, fixed our rooms, books and placed everything in order. I would also write her a letter, letting her know how I felt.

Others would order for the entire Hall and we would have pizza, chips, drinks and whatever food we had stashed around under our beds or in our rooms.

It was all symbolic our rector would tell us. We have prepared physically, but what about preparing spiritually?

Many times I have been tempted to question my faith. Having been witness to too many senseless deaths and countless suffering can do that to you I guess. I am definitely not devout. I have my flaws. I am not holier than thou. But in the end I’d still like to believe that there is reason for all this, that there is purpose in living and while there’s life, there is hope.

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~ by allen mallari on June 30, 2008.

One Response to “happy death”

  1. Reblogged this on The White Coat Chronicles and commented:

    This post was originally posted in my other blog. I don’t believe that the world will end tomorrow, but what if it did? Maybe it’s because life and death are intricately woven in my chosen profession that every once in a while it is but proper that I reflect upon it. I hope you like what you find in here, unedited as it was written about four years ago..

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