"You know, what they say is true. Your life really does flash before your eyes when you die.
Your hopes, your dreams, your accomplishments, your failures. Your highest highs and your lowest lows. From the greatest events to the smallest forgotten details.
You don't just SEE them. You FEEL them as well, clear as the moment they happened.
The rapture of holding a newborn baby for the first time. The ecstatic screaming as you accepted a marriage proposal. Your stomach dropping out as you find out about a loved one's demise.
I've always been mildly empathetic. It's part of what drove me into the priesthood.
The desire to help, coupled with the tangible reward of feeling the difference I made in those who sought my aid.
Eventually, I started spending time in hospices and nursing homes, tending to the very unfortunate, and to those whose light was about to die out. I remember the very first time it happened.
Gladys Rubacher, an 88 year old retired school teacher. Her family had abandoned her years ago, and no one came to visit her.
One night, doing my rounds, I found she was in exceptionally poor health.
Having finished my responsibilities for the evening, I took vigil at her side, holding her hand as she grew weaker and weaker, feeling her fear, her pain, but finally her acceptance.
Then she took her final breath.
When she did, it was....spectacular. All of a sudden, I saw her whole life. I felt what she did, every step of the way. Of course, I saw the highlights, but the little things too.
Her giving her 3rd grade crush her last piece of candy when he tripped and fell. Her stealing a bottle of vodka at 19 and the guilt that followed. Her donating all her bonus checks to the homeless.
Her torrid affair that she never told anyone about, but gave her sinful pleasures. I saw it all.
When it was over, I snapped back to reality. Honestly, it took me several moments to remember where I was, or even WHO I was. I got lost in her for so long.....it felt like years.
It was almost like I had lived it myself.
It took days to really come back to my senses, and work out what was real from the experience.
I will say I sought it out again. It was very difficult to time it. I had to be touching them. Though I did find a place that was MUCH easier.
Our state does do lethal injections after all.
That was a completely different type of experience, as you might imagine. Myself a priest, watching rape, torture, murder, and arson, feeling the forbidden joys of sins taken to the extremes.
But those executions are so few and far between.
Which brings me to why I am holding this knife, and you are tied to a chair.
This is so much easier. Now, let's see what kind of life you have lived."