My most meaningful relationship was found with a rather pleasant old woman who soon came into being a dear friend of mine, as she really taught me what it meant to give. I say this because she offered me, one who was a complete stranger, the gift of her life; the gift of her history and legacy. We talked extensively about who she was, who she interacted with, and all of the forces of good and bad in her life. She liked to talk about the simple things that surrounded the day, and she always found happiness in the memories which she held. I could feel the pride in her voice as she told her stories to me. I am grateful to have met her. Such strength is truly inspiring in the face of such an adversary, which brings me to what I now understand about death and dying.

She taught me that life is a coalition of people we meet throughout our journey, and that coalition is the thing that amounts to a great portion of who we are. We are in many ways defined by these people and they form the memories we share and cherish; both for good and bad because we growth from both forms. We learn from all things and there is beauty in that. To die a meaningful and prideful death is to accept that and to recognize the merit in the beauty of all those moments … happy, painful, or otherwise.

I have grown to appreciate life so much more having met this woman. She taught me not to fear the impending and inevitable, but rather to appreciate life for all of its characteristics, because each moment on this Earth is a gift. I respect and acknowledge the meaning of death only when juxtaposed to how much I appreciate my life. My vocation could not be any more clear. I wish to interact in the ways taught to me through this experience so that I may grow to understand more as well as help others understand more the extent to which their life, however painful, is a gift.