Seeing The First time

Day after day a million confused emotions ebbed and flowed and sometimes clashed within him.

After a time, when he had come to feel particularly ill, and knew that he would soon be placing himself into Hospice, he wondered what he should do at last.

It is said that there are two kinds of people: those who, if they knew they had but days to live, would take to a church, and those who would dash to the brothel.

This man had always said his prayers and was not particularly afraid to die. But the thought persisted. What to do at last?

Finally, he decided. It occurred to him with great emotion that there had been a terrible deficit in his long life. And on the day he was to leave, after packing his final suitcase and making a few calls to say a slightly tearful goodbye to a few friends, he walked over to the window, opened it, and just looked… just listened. And it appeared magical, as hardly ever before.

He saw everything as if for the first time, the sky, the birds with their oh-so peculiar calls, songs and cries, flying this way and that, the trees all spry and swaying in the mild breezes, the hazy line of the beautiful shimmering blue horizon. And he listened—truly listened—to the many, many sounds (How many sounds there are in a summer’s hour!) and watched the subtle changes in the light as minutes passed into minutes until all sense of time was lost…he seemed to smell things he hadn’t smelled since he was a child, and each particular odor—a breeze carrying a whiff of lingering rain which had fallen many hours ago, the grass (what an exquisite odor, the grass!), a slight hint of smoke in some distance that he could not see. It all evoked luscious visions of days and persons past.

It filled him with a great sadness to think he hadn’t done this many, many times before, hadn’t seen while seeing, hadn’t heard while hearing…So much doing, he thought, so little being.

One by one as he drifted in and out of colors and thoughts, he saw in his mind’s eye the people of all his yesterdays whom he had loved. His dear mother, how young she was it was clear to him now when she died so early leaving him pining for her smiles and touches, and his beloved grandmother cooking and telling him he had to eat, it was good for him; his own handsome father playing horseshoes or throwing him slightly into the air and then catching him as a child on a summer’s night when the huge, hot orange ball of a sun appeared to set like a giant, lush, painting in the sky.

For the first time he seemed to draw the whole world into his senses, and all the light into his eyes. And he realized, like never before, how much he loved it all. And what a gift he had been given.

Finally, hearing the horn of the taxi coming up the dirt road, he made the Sign of the Cross in gratefulness, and closing the door behind him, he departed to leave this world.