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That Time I Lived in South Africa

Updated: Oct 28, 2017

You may go your whole life without anyone really stopping long enough to truly see you and find you.

My job in South Africa was to take care of adults and children as they died of AIDS and teach others how to do the same. To teach people how to be with someone and be present for them and support them as they pass. I was in the hospice field for some time.

As a kid I would go to the nursing home down the street to hang out with the old folks. I would just sit and listen to stories for hours.

The more senile the better. The stories that make no sense are always the best stories.

Going to Africa was a dream of mine and I will go again.

I feel like I need to explain why I choose this as my field. Why would someone want to be around people dying? Death and Dying are avoided at all costs. We spend most of our day and night avoiding death and suffering, both in ourselves and in others too. This fascinates me.

Everyone runs away from what everyone will do. You and I are very different but we are identical in that we will both die one day. I, too, run and avoid death.

What brought me to this field is I wanted to know why. What is this death business that I and everyone else is so afraid of? I turned around and began walking toward this scary monster named death very young, purely to rebel against a fear that grips people.

"Oh yeah? You are so scary that you make me and the whole world scared. I bet you are not so scary. Let's see you then!" My ego came in handy at this point. "How dare death think it can back me into a corner and frighten me. I'll show you."

Over the past 17 years or so I have got the privilege to be with a very large number of people going through the process of dying and I feel lucky every time. Each persons experience is different. The trick to being with someone facing death is to face it with them.

Not imposing any of me in their death.

I do get very scared... with them. Happy... with them. They take me on their ride.