“For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its
restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?”-Kahlil Gibran, On Death
As I am writing this, a friend is by her father’s beside, taking a journey with him that will only allow her to go so far. At some point, he will take a step away from her and she will remain here. Perhaps her mother will hold out her hand and invite him to join her, since she made her transtion 10 years ago Christmas Eve. Another friend said goodbye to her mother a few weeks ago. A year ago, on the day after Thanksgiving, my mother continued the dance with my father that was interrupted 2 1/2 years earlier and on December 21st, I said Kaddish for my husband on the 13th anniversary of his death. Each of these souls are feathers on the breath of God, wafting through life on a different level.
So many of us avoid the subject of death, but for me, it is as intimate as corporeal existence; nothing morbid or frightening about it. I have worked as a nursing home social worker and home care social worker and witnessed the death of residents and patients. I have been a bereavement counselor and teach classes on the subject. As an interfaith minister, I have officiated at funerals (including those of both my parents and an uncle) I have been at the bedsides of my father in 2008 and my husband in 1998. I was not present when my mother took her last breath, since she had orchestrated it that way. It feels very much like being a midwife on the other end of the life spectrum, very much an honor.
I remember the experience of being in hospital rooms with my parents and Michael, footsteps echoing down corridors, sleep eluding me and being eagerly grasped when it would blanket me in fleeting comfort. ‘Normal’ felt like it was out of my reach for the time being. I wondered what it be like to experience ’normal’ again. And of course, I live it now. As I think about my friend who is witnessing her father’s transition now, I feel an odd sense of gratitude that I have survived the experience and that are no more parents to bury and no phone call to await, summoning me to their bedsides. Even as tears of sadness flow and a longing for one more hug, one more laugh with them, one more smile, one more loving word, is with me, I have every certainty that they are experiencing a joy beyond anything I might imagine at the moment. Knowing that, heals my heart and I offer that same sense of comfort to my friends who are where I was a year ago.
http://youtu.be/RMTKb-pgxGI Keep Me In Your Heart For Awhile by Warren Zevon
http://youtu.be/qkG7XE-uBSk There’s An Angel Watching You by Barry Goldstein
Two of my favorite books on the subject
Glad No Matter What by SARK www.planetsark.com
Loving Grief by Paul Bennett www.lovinggrief.com