Death is the one thing in life that has more questions than answers. While some people have firm beliefs in what they think happens when someone dies no one really knows for sure. But what about the time before someone dies? Is there really a way people can know? Did Aidan know?
There was an extract in the newspaper this week from the book Opening Heaven’s Door by Patricia Pearson. The book addresses ‘nearing death awareness’ and features many anecdotes from palliative care doctors and nurses who have witnessed the final moments of people’s lives. In a recent interview, Patricia describes this ‘nearing death awareness’ in the following way:
People start talking in symbolic language about their dying. They’ll say, “I need to go shopping now,” or “Get my shoes. I’m going home.” In my sister’s case, she made references to airplanes taking off.
Another facet is the tendency to interact with an invisible presence. They see someone already deceased and chat with the person. When that happens, hospice nurses say the person is going to die soon. There are subtle elements that make it distinct from brain-based hallucinations.
Of course, Patricia was referring to adults but I often wondered if Aidan subconsciously knew what fate had in store for him. It was not uncommon for me to obsess about these ‘signs’. People would often tell you not to focus on the ‘death’ but when you live with it in the back of your mind constantly, it’s impossible to ignore.
I remember times when Aidan, quite out of the blue, would say things like, “I love you mummy” or give me an extra big hug. For the whole day I would fret that he knew something I didn’t, that today was going to be the day. I would be an emotional mess and despite Anthony telling me there was no basis for my fears, it was a niggling feeling that would last for days. After a week of nothing happening I would finally let go of the fear until the next ‘sign’ came along. I can’t even put into words the anxiety and stress living with that fear caused.
The reality, however, was something quite different. The night Aidan passed away there was no sign anything untoward was going to happen. There was nothing different from the usual. Even when we turned off his machines, there were no final words of wisdom or an ‘I love you’ as he took his last breath. If he knew, he certainly didn’t share it with us.