I can not remember a time in my life when I was pain-free. This is difficult for some to understand- however, I suppose that when you live with anything long enough, it becomes a part of the cell’s memory. Pain springs up like an unwelcome weed in an otherwise pristine garden- at times hidden like the morning glory vines, becoming visible only as they choke the life from surrounding plants. At other times, the pain screams for recognition- like the spines of a Scotch thistle. There is nothing I can do except bear it, and hope that the fire dies down by and by. Perhaps this is why I work in my chosen profession. Pain is such a central motif in the art of dying. I understand what it does to the soul, how it erodes, dulls, and flattens the colors of living into bleached and gray expanses of existing. Pain squeezes the universe, compressing it into the size of one body- or body part, that in turn swallows up galaxies in its desire for relief. Pain is the unwelcome conjoined twin that cannot be separated. For that reason, I pray for those I love who are now, at this moment, in pain of any sort. Physical, emotional, spiritual. Pain is a terrible master- but it can also be a severe mercy.