No one really expects death. As a matter of fact, it is quite the opposite. We try to push its date back more and more and we often succeed in doing so. We say that birth is the first day of the rest of our life. We embark on the path of life without commanding our entrance into the world and we do not know when we will reach its end. We are not sentenced to death, but granted the right to exist. We live this life and breathe existence into it; a life that unfolds at a given pace until we reach that most distant age… unless an accident occurs.
When your life reaches its end, your body, now exhausted by hard work after it has happily functioned without falling ill or feeling pain for decades, becomes frail and will give in unexpectedly. Upon entering the hospital, one will often remain there. At the emergency, we are given curative and acute care. In life’s hallway, the hospital plays a crucial role as it tries to be a repair shop for your body. Generally, we don’t stay there long and we usually just want to get out of there fast.
As we walk this hallway of life, we put our health in the hands of a system that can save us after an accident or push back our final moment. But can we also heal ourselves or reach out to a loved one? Can we stretch the course of time, this happy time spent in life’s hallway?
Stories like Alfred’s make us think and reflect. Alfred is a man who has endured many hardships, and has worked hard all his life. At the age of 14, he was already providing for his family. He had been hired by a logging company, treated like a slave. He was driven by the battle of survival. At 85 years of age, he, who was not afraid of anything, feels his death approaching, especially at night when his blood pressure rises. In those moments of distress, a kind soul watches over him, his life companion, who also fears of losing him, and of passing away herself. So, again, on this night, she challenges the angel of death that seems to be lurking in the house and she calls for help. François, a family relative whom they consider a saviour, responds day and night. Perhaps, this is a false alarm, again, and still, he is there to help. He does not judge. He understands their state of anxiety, and is aware of their vulnerability. Always in calmness, he takes Alfred under his care and takes him to the hospital’s emergency room. Already, Alfred feels better, he feels reassured. He is told that there is no need to worry and he leaves feeling at peace after a few hours, still feeling the secure protection of Francis. Although this is another sleepless night for him, what counts is the mark of respect towards Alfred, the attention paid to him. Alfred did live to be 95 years old, putting his trust in his saviour, feeling loved and protected. Had it not been for Francis’s care, would Alfred have lived so happily? Would have life’s hallway been so long?