It’s beginning to finally look somewhat like Christmas around my house. We have a tree; my kids and I decorated this evening. We listened to Christmas carols and hung up ornaments. I’m going to bed thinking Not bad for a single mom.
I search everywhere for a gift,
just something, something
so that I don’t show up
Then I remember
the real gift cannot be given
or taken away.
The real gift
an inextinguishable source.
The real gift
doesn’t change hands,
it changes hearts.
We all have this gift,
and if we could really see it,
be running frantically to the store…
We’d sit in circles
of quiet joy,
the light of infinity
mirrored in one another’s eyes.
We spent the morning at the pool.
It’s January, and we’re at the pool?
Then we went home, had lunch,
took a nap.
Wow, we can slow down and rest?
And then we packed a meal
and headed to the beach
for a sunset cookout.
We boogie boarded with the kids
catching gentle waves
that took us back to shore.
We ate our meal
complete with fresh pineapple
and it was twilight as we were finishing.
A couple of cute little hermit crabs appeared
right as we were packing up to go.
The ocean serenaded us with her sweet song
as we walked back up the path to the van.
I feel happy, whole, rested, complete.
Wow, I’m on vacation?
My two sisters
My two cousins
were pall bearers today.
pulled our grandmother’s casket
out of the hearse
and wheeled it
up the aisle of the church.
Because my grandmother
was strong in her faith
she made sure to bring us to church
every time my sisters and I
spent the night at her house.
She taught me the Our Father prayer
and how to find hymns in the hymnal.
I remember how she’d pray,
kneeling, eyes closed,
resting her head in one hand
while the other held her rosary.
Because so many of my memories of her
involve the church,
the reality of her passing
really hit me
as we walked into the sanctuary.
The familiar strains of Ode to Joy
filled my ears.
The sound of the music
and the beauty of the space
touched my heart.
I cried as this moment
made her death seem
even more real.
The service was beautiful,
the luncheon that followed
On the long ride to the cemetery
I got to thinking about
the ways we honor the dead
and provide closure for the living.
There were some final prayers
and then it was done.
I took a rose from the bouquet on her casket,
whispered goodbye Mom-Mom.
Now I’m home with this single flower
and so many memories.
She looked so peaceful
as if she were sleeping;
I expected at any moment
she would wake up and speak to us.
Beautiful flowers surrounded her
and pinned to the bouquets
were notes of sympathy and condolence.
Many friends and family
came to see her and pay their respects– Why does it take an event such as this to bring us all together?
I touched her hands, her face,
so familiar to me;
they felt foreign
with all the warmth gone from them…
And yet still there was this surge of affection
seeing her there, looking so peaceful, asleep.
I wondered about this tradition.
The body in the casket
was not my grandmother…
it was the garment she wore for 94 years.
My grandmother is everywhere now,
my heart knows this.
I can feel her love now more than ever.
I looked and looked, but I couldn’t see death…
only life in its many forms as its flows
from one state of being to the next.
I got to say goodbye to her yesterday.
We heard she wasn’t well,
had lost consciousness for a while;
they had called for the priest…
So we left in a hurry
hoping to get there in time.
When my mom and I arrived,
she lay there pale, asleep,
mouth partially open.
I touched her face,
took her hands,
said Hello Mom-Mom.
She opened her eyes
and I was so glad to look into them.
She smiled at me, said my name,
told me my hands were cold,
When I asked her how she felt,
she said Tired. I just want to rest. I’m ready.
We all took turns
spending time at her bedside
and she thanked each one of us
for all we had done.
I never knew that spending time
with a dying person
could be so sweet, tender,
I watched my aunt and cousins
and mother cry gently now and again
Just like I.
We joked and laughed with her,
the hospice staff were sweet
and affectionate with her too.
I sat beside her on the bed,
stroked her hair, her cheek,
massaged her shoulder,
held both of her hands.
I kept hearing her say goodbye
She told me she was tired,
that she wanted rest.
I heard my cousin say Everything is taken care of, you don’t need to worry. You can let go when you are ready.
And my sweet Mom-Mom,
so childlike, innocent,
so soft-spoken now…
she looked into my cousin’s eyes
as my cousin smiled and nodded.
It was a privilege to hear her speak
to everyone, saying some of the last words
she would ever speak,
so many words of love and gratitude.
And then it was time for me to go.
I kissed her several more times,
told her I loved her again and again,
breathed in the smell of her soft cheek,
so pale. Goodbye Mom-Mom, I love you. I love you too, hon.
When we received the news of her passing
I felt so grateful to have had the chance to say goodbye,
to feel complete in the last words spoken.
This beautiful life that has an end…
When we witness the end of someone else’s life,
it reminds us of our own mortality,
and motivates us to take advantage
of the time we have.
Could there be any greater gift?
Thank you Mom-Mom
for the gift of your life
and for the gift of your passing.