This morning after being violently slayed by a twenty-four hour bug I woke up with a jolt at exactly 8:30. I had been visited all night by dearly beloveds that have passed; so clearly visited that I don’t feel that I was dreaming. My sister, Margaret said to me, after I apologized for forgetting a treasure shell that I found for her and then left at the beach by mistake, that she would not be seeing me for a long long time but we would be together again. And then I woke and saw the clock.
Today today today would have been my mother’s 91st birthday and it’s also the day, two years ago that my father left the planet. 8:30 is the moment that I arrived at the hospital to find him gone but still warm. Dad had passed fifteen minutes before while we were en route and I took his hand in mine and held it until it was cold. Hands. The hands of our parents and our children. We know every single curve and freckle, don’t we? I have heard forever that there is a peace in death, that the body looks restful at last. This is not what I saw. I absolutely believe that Dad did ultimately choose to give himself to Mom as a birthday present but the decision was a tough one, he fought passionately for his life, and what I saw was not ‘peace’ but simply an empty body.
And so forever this day is a combination of feelings for me. Mom’s birthday! Dad’s passing day. If only we could all slip away effortlessly into the great beyond then perhaps one could feel more quiet around passing days. I wonder how long my mind will take me on the journey and images of those brutal 105 days that were Dad’s last. I see his eyes looking at me, more vulnerable than I had ever experienced. Yes, this is a gift; but the agony and pleading expression eats at my heart. We all need to learn to accept the suffering of others as their journey, I know, but the soul is supremely tested when face to face with that integral component of the human condition. Having said this it hardly seems fair that God orchestrated it so that the elderly, after all that they have lived through to reach these ripe ages, then need to be physically and emotionally put through the ringer as their last hurrah. I guess that’s the rub. We’ll only know when it’s our turn, won’t we?
Happy Birthday Mom! I can hear Dad laughing right now and I know that you’ve somehow conjured up an angel food cake with squishy chocolate frosting and colored sprinkles. Make a wish! Both of you!