Lust is said to be an inappropriate emotion – it associated with seven deadly sins. But I say that lust is a strong emotion just like love or hate. I say that lust can take any form: it can be mundane lust for superhuman strength, for example people who wish to be like Wonder Woman and Superman. Some lust for sex or power… but some – like a good man I know – who lay on his death bed, lusting for life.
I saw in his eyes that he lusted for life. He wished he could turn back the clock, and go back in time to mend his fatal mistake of smoking his life away. He was lying on this bed in hospice care because of cigarettes. He was a terminally ill patient with advanced lung cancer that was widely spread. The doctors could not save him.
He coughed up blood. He was as thin as a log. He complained about chest pain. He had difficulty breathing, as the lung carcinoma was growing in the airways.
Doctors had transferrred him to hospice care with his family’s permission, of course. They all knew there was no hope of his survival – he was a dead man walking.
He knew too that he would meet death soon. “Death can’t be shunned, Doc. I want to die a good death,” he said to his doctor, coughing with death written all over his face.
Coping with impending death is hard to digest for anyone. I could not imagine what he was feeling or what his family were feeling about this whole death thing. For a family it is hard and painful to watch your loved one die before you. They were all sitting ducks. I was just a bystander who knew something about suffering and pain. But I could do nothing about it. I was not a saviour like Jesus Christ. If I had the gift of miracles, I would have saved this man from the grim reaper.
He put on a strong façade. I imagined that he was experiencing grief, fear, loneliness, depression and anxiety. How do you accept your own death? His suffering was emotional and physical. He summoned his family – from his wife to his sister. His wife was heavily preganant. Her name was Tamika. She was a brunette with a tan complexion. I could see the pain all over her face. It was painful to see her husband in that state. She wept, wishing that God could do something. “You cannot die on me. I do not want our child to grow up without a father,” she said sobbing.
He caressed her hand and said, “I am sorry I won’t be there for you guys. I will miss our baby’s first ultrasound. If I do not make his birth, call him Michael Junior. I love you guys. If I had nine lives, I would not be in this place. Joanna, my lovely sister, please take care of yourself and if that chauvinist pig of a boyfriend of yours is laying hands on you… I shall hunt him day and night! I love you my baby sister.”
Joanna said, “No, you are not going anywhere, brother. Our parents are no more and you are the only family I have got.”
“Set me free, dear sister. You are giving me false hope. Till we meet again,” he said, gaspin for air.
“No! Brother do not leave me,” she cried.
He closed his eyes. The machines were rowdy. The arterial waves were becoming narrow not upside and down.
“What’s happening?” asked Tamika.
The doctor and nurses chased Tamika and Joanna out. They would not be performing CPR as the patient had signed a document to not be resuscitated. His heart had stopped due to palliative sedation, which helped relieve him through his hours of dying. The drugs eliminated his pain and sufferings. He would no longer suffer or feel excruciating pain – he was now in a better place.
Dr Kashmir broke the bad news about Tamika’s husband’s death. She wept and screamed like a banshee. It was as though someone had put a dagger in her heart.
It would not be a good ending if I did not tell you the name of the deceased. His name was Michael Mitchell. He died before the birth of his son. It was pretty gloomy because he never had a chance to see his son or hold him in his arms.
This hit me hard that life is too short and death holds all the cards. He had gambled with his life and lost. Sometimes we are the ones who cause our own death.
Tell us: What would you have done if you knew you were going to die?