From Baby to Baby to Baby
Burnaby, British Columbia
"We come like a baby and we go out like a baby," said the voice of an elderly man. I was in the palliative care unit of the Burnaby General Hospital when the comment came out from behind the bed curtains as he was speaking to the nurse.
I suppose it's one of those comments that is heard by those who tend to patients in thier last days. So I, making that pastoral visit, which goes with the brahmin's territory, also hear such truthful remarks.
Kapil, aka, Keith Neale, was a patient I had come to visit. It was only today that the doctor informed him that a few days remained for him. Kapil said to me that he was shocked that his time was soon coming. Yet, he didn't show it, I knew so little of him, only that he was a very steady pujari (priest) at the local Krishna temple. He gave me some biographical details about himself. He gave up an executive life for a devotional one. A lump recently started forming behind his ear and he was diagnosed with cancer.
I was impressed with how he's handling this turn of events, taking it like a hero at 63.
I was also moved by the spirit of Michelle, 70, who is also a member of our community in Burnaby, and whose waning days on this planet are a reality. She is one floor up from Kapil. She was speaking with some spunk about her happy days of serving and visiting the temple. The major theme of our topic at the hospital could be titled, 'Enough'. Enough meaning she wanted to go. She wished that patients could graciously leave this world, to not prolong their stay through modern technical hookups or any other superficial means. Her point was "Let the next life open up to you." It was not totally clear to me that she was in such anguish as to leave her body now, but she was certainly speaking on behalf of thousands, perhaps millions of people whose stay in this world has been prolonged. When in fact, they wish to die and depart for greater hopes.
This concept of life after life is something that gives that extra drive, especially if it promises an improved situation.
Michelle chose a big topic that warrants such big talks and thoughts. I thought about it more as I walked from the hospital back to my guest accommodation. In the Gita Sri Krsna explains, "As the embodied soul continually passes in this life from childhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at the time of death. One who is self realized (spiritual) is not bewildered by such a change." Bhagavad-gita 2.13