At first, I only knew of Judith.
As in, I had met her a few times and smiled and said hello a few times as our paths crossed at Universal Medicine workshops and events but had never really had a conversation with her.
I was not really aware at that time that she was terminally ill. I mean, she looked slight and slim for sure but she always seemed in a great mood with a smile on her face.
I assumed she was roughly in her 60’s. There are usually several hundred people at Universal Medicine events so it is very easy to recognise a warm familiar face and smile and say hello and know someone’s warmth and depth – but not really know where they have come from or any details about their life.
Around April 2014 I received a call from Ingrid, a woman who lived with Judith. Ingrid was another warm and gentle elder in the community whom I knew well enough to say hello to, but did not know anything about. She was gathering together a group of volunteers who lived close by to be available to support her and Judith, as they prepared for Judith’s imminent departure from this world.
Judith was entering her final stages of palliative care and was lucky enough to have a wonderful friend in Ingrid, as well as an amazing nurse and many friends to support her at home rather than being in a hospital.
And when I say lucky – what I really mean is – blessed by the quality of community that she had chosen to be a part of and by the depth and quality of the pioneering work of Serge Benhayon in how it is shaping what community can actually hold for us.
And so I got the phone call:
“Simon, do you think you could be available here and there for when we need a man to lift Judith out of bed to help her sit up and get her to the toilet?”
As she got weaker she could not lift herself – Ingrid and Elizabeth her nurse were small ladies themselves in their 50’s and 60’s.
Now this is not really a question or favour you get asked everyday: Are you available to lift a dying lady you don’t really know on and off the toilet in the mornings and evenings before and after work?
If I am honest, at first, while I said “Yes of course I can support when needed”, it was not really something I was looking forward to doing when I already had a very busy schedule and did not really know what to expect. If I am really honest – at first I thought of it as a chore.
And so I joined a team of gents from around the neighbourhood, I think there were 3 or 4 of us that Ingrid could call and say “Hey are you around this evening? – Can you come over?” And so for a month or two we joined those gathered around to support.
What do you talk about to someone whom you have just recently met properly as you lift them out of bed and help them walk to the toilet in their dressing gown?
We would have conversations that were simple and fun – in fact not much was ever really said or discussed in great detail – but the way Judith looked at you and held you in her gaze was so vivid and deep, she made you feel that each moment in this life is sacred and joyful. That every single moment in this life is important.
You could feel every breath for her was something special and every moment that she got to share with someone and look into their eyes was special, a moment to be embraced and enjoyed in full.
It took me a little while to settle into actually being able to sit with her like that.
Life is so busy and so often we feel we don’t have time. Sitting with Judith you really had to feel how much importance we place on unimportant things and how much time we spend actually avoiding truly connecting with people.
It was winter and I would always be very rugged up and warm when I went. Judith loved my big fluffy warm hat with side flaps and a furry peak. Often I would take it off and, at her request, let her wear it. It was a very funny sight to see this little terminally ill lady, in a hospital bed, sitting there straight faced and telling me all about her day in this big fluffy hat that she adored putting on. She couldn’t do much in her physical state, but she loved everything she could do with every cell of her being.
Judith’s eyes were bright and sparkly. Her smile equally so. She spoke softly and as time went on she would be out of breath, but every word she spoke was magnificent – considered and full and rich. She did not ever say anything for the sake of just saying something. She did not waste one single breath on anything other than sharing joy. The joy of life and connection and the chance we all have each day to love each other.
I remember meeting Seth and Sarah – Judith’s children one evening at the house as it came much closer to her passing. It was within a week or so now before she passed. It was interesting to me that I had this incredible opportunity to spend time with this woman who I now knew very, very well over the past couple of months, and yet her children had not taken up that opportunity.
Judith was surrounded by a community that adored spending time with her. They came to support not out of some sense of duty or obligation. They were there because they loved her and they loved being around her. I met Seth and Sarah briefly on two occasions and on both occasions they stayed in the lounge while I went to visit, chat, and help their mother to the toilet.
The sun was shining bright and it was a clear, blue sky on the morning that Ingrid called me to ask if I could come down and lift Judith’s body out of the bed and into the coffin.
I chose to walk to her house just to take the time to comprehend what was going on.
As I arrived and met my friend Steve and his Brazilian co-worker Caio in the lounge room, there really was nothing sad at all about what we were about to do. We walked into the room and there on the floor was a butterfly and rainbow painted coffin that had been prepared at Judith’s request by our friends Rosie and her young daughter.
The room was still and glowing – the sun streaming in.
In the bed was not Judith. Anyone who has ever seen the body of someone who has departed knows what I mean. Anyone who has any doubt that there is more to us than flesh and blood has never seen eyes shining like Judith’s did and then seen the plastic / wax like dummy that remains when that light has moved somewhere else.
We lifted the body up and placed it gently in the coffin.
The body was much heavier than what I was used to when I lifted Judith to the toilet.
We placed it in the butterfly rainbow coffin and into the back of Ingrid’s little SUV and in accordance with Judith’s wishes, Ingrid dropped the coffin off to the crematorium and without a fuss or kerfuffle, the body was burnt. We all went to work and made sure we did not just ‘attend’ – but lived our day in full.
Writing this now I can feel what a blessing it was to spend time with her. What was so amazing about being in her presence, was being in the presence of a person who did not have one ounce of fear. Judith was not afraid of death.
But equally so and even more powerfully – she was not afraid of life.
There are more Elders in our community.
Ingrid is now preparing for the same journey. She is not sitting in a nursing home alone and “tended” to. She is busy writing and learning how to use her Apple Mac better, is involved in many community projects, supports other women with cancer and has just played a big part in publishing a book on the joy of ageing which you can see at the Joy of Ageing Esoterically website.
She has much yet to do and many around her that love her dearly – even though her ‘blood’ family is in Germany. There is something very special about those that have chosen to be students of The Way of The Livingness in how they look at and move through life. There is a path being laid for a much lighter world.
I know that the journey for Ingrid will be equally as beautiful (for her and also for me) and I know that she knows we will be there for her in the same way.
I didn’t help Judith McIntyre as she prepared to die……
She helped me to really live.
Enjoy the beauty of Judith first-hand in the documentary film An interview with Judith McIntyre