I came to New York with my dear Aunt Frankie, (the hospice nurse who introduced me to death and dying as a child). We came specifically to see her son Charles who helped design and was hosting an outdoor urban “lab” for the Guggenheim Museum. It has been a treat to see what the “lab” has accomplished in this urban space in the East Village of NYC. It has been a pleasure to experience NYC with someone who LOVES this city. Once again I am reminded of the role of a “guide” in our lives, and the value of a great guide when someone you love is dying.
We toured through “uptown” NYC, saw the city from atop of the Rockefeller Center, walked the streets, sat in Bryant Park, visited the wonderful library, ate great food, and went to the theater.
Each step of the way Charles had stories of the history…. not ancient history, but history of the culture and the way that people use space. He told us about Bryant Park in the 70’s and how people would not be safe to visit this space… he talked of the redesign, and how changes in the landscape, addition of places to sit, to visit, and to play games,… all brought fresh life to this park.
Cha talked of safety, and how safe he feels in this city. And tonight, my last night here, as I was out walking alone on the streets, I reflected on how safe I felt. I felt safe, because he felt safe. He felt safe because he learned the roads, he learned the safety rules, and he became familiar with the territory.
In “Essentials in Hospice Palliative Care” I told the story of our family adventure in Mexico, our one year of traveling and exploring that incredible county. I compared that experience and what we needed as we journeyed in a foreign land, with the dying, and with their needs might be.
Once again, I reflect on the value of a guides who know the journey of dying, are familiar with the challenges, the possibilities, the needs, the fears,… and who can help both the dying and their loved ones navigate the pathways.
Dying and being with the dying… can also feel scarey. I hope that when I am dying, that someone who is comfortable with this journey, will be there to walk with me and my loved ones.
Meanwhile, what a great visit to the big city. Thanks Cha for sharing your love and knowledge with us.