I was honoured this weekend to be a part of the most beautiful celebration of life.
I was an observer. A peripheral helper if you will, to my dear friend, whose family member had bravely opted for Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD).
The process has been supported by the Canadian government since 2016. This article isn’t to debate ethics or rights, but to highlight the beauty of this experience as witnessed by me—a loving “fly on the wall.”
This beautiful soul invited her most precious friends and relatives to drop by her home over the course of the weekend. It was perfect autumn weather; leaves carpeted the ground around us as everyone mingled outside.
What I was honoured to bear witness to was the abundance of love, laughter, old photo albums, embarrassing stories, and the reconnection of old friends. It had many of the features of a funeral—except she was right there.
Poking fun at those around her.
Gasping at some of the most unflattering photos that surfaced from decades ago.
There were inevitable tears. But there was exponentially more joy. There was riotous, snorting laughter. Then there were intermittent moments when the reality would sink in and everyone would pause, tuck a tear back into the crease of their eye, and breathe.
I actually didn’t know any of the men and women who walked up the driveway, being one degree of separation from the guest of honour myself.
But I felt an immeasurable heart connection to each person. Because each person was gifted with the opportunity to tell someone they loved precisely how they felt. What she had meant to them. While they could. Today.
Fearlessly, she gave strength to each person. She is entirely at peace with her decision. She is empowered. She is brave. She is inspiring.
And it was stunningly obvious as I watched her interact with each person. She was present. She comforted others—even as it was time to say goodbye. This was her realizing her incredible life potential. She brought so many people together that would not otherwise have reconnected.
Later, I would come to know that many of these friends who gathered on that deck had troubled pasts, grievances even, that they all mindfully set aside to be present to the moment. Present to what had brought everyone together. The power of that moment managed to take precedent.
Quietly, I reflected on the overwhelming beauty of this gift. For her husband, daughter, sister, and father. For her friends. For her. It was perfection.
A Buddhist meditation on death played over in my mind: “I may die today. I may die today.”
It’s not macabre—it’s true. I may die today.
But the truth is also that I have no idea. None of us do.
What if, by knowing this—and with the gift that was afforded me this weekend—I choose to live more mindfully. More purposefully. More present to the moment. More gratefully.
What if this immeasurable gift that she has given each of her friends and family is the beautiful reminder to cherish this precious human life?
If we could truly embrace the knowing, that we never actually have a clue when we will move on from this life, would we live each day any differently? Would each interaction with someone be more precious? Would we choose our words differently and speak more kindly? Would we exhaust our minds worrying over things that won’t matter on “that day”? Would the pauses of daily life become more profound than the endless doing?
I may die today.
This beautiful soul evoked this of me. So I will love with all my heart and not waste it.
Will you join me? For her sake…