I witnessed another being die today. I was at the gym, on the elliptical looking out the window….and I happened to see a moth flying around by the ivy. I delight these days, even more than usual, in watching nature and all of its beautiful creatures and plants. And so I watched this white moth fluttering and flying …..and noticed that its flight seemed a bit erratic. As I continued to watch, it flew closer and closer to the ground, until finally settling on the ground lying still. I waited, hoping to see it take flight again….but it did not. I, in fact, just witnessed its last flight as it gently landed on the ground to die.
I was so very moved by this. This tiny creature, having reached the end of its life and time, dying before me, with me as the only witness. No one else around to see the last fluttering of its wings or it slowly letting go ….to fly no longer. I felt, and still feel, so sad and deeply quieted by this.
Of course this is the circle of life, and the final destination that we must all reach. As I age, and as this destination feels closer each day, I am sensitive to what these final moments may be like – whether we will be alone- whether there will be anyone around us to be present as we take our last breath….whether it matters. But it mattered to me that I was there to witness this moth, its final flight. I was silent, experiencing the finality and grace of that moment….the sacred moment of letting go…..the end of this creature’s time on this earth….and that I was given the gift of being there to witness and honor this moment for another creature…..to wish it peace and grace…..to wish the same for myself when my time comes to take my final breath.
It seems important, in this life, to be witnessed, seen, and heard. And perhaps to have our final moment be witnessed as well…..even though this is a journey, this final destination, that we must all take alone. But perhaps we can be surrounded by some love sent our way, by some appreciation for the life we have lived, some grace for the moment that we die. It may seem silly, but I found myself sending this moth love and grace and the fullest presence to its being that I could. That felt important to do. Perhaps someone may do that for me. To honor each others’ lives, to honor the moment of death ….to see until the end, and to remember with our hearts. I hold that moth in my heart. I hold the pets that I have lost in my heart. I hold friends and family that I have lost in my heart. I hold the patients that died in the nursing home where I worked as a social worker in my heart – both those that had family surrounding them and those whose family I had become. It is a very sacred moment that I am honored to be a part of…..and grateful for. Each moment, I learn more and more, has its own special grace and gift to give, if we can stop and have the presence and courage to witness, see and feel it.