Death is never an easy character to deal with. You can have your time to say goodbyes. You can know you are following the wishes of the ill person. You can know they are better off leaving this world, but there is still never anything easy about it. It is a character that sneaks up on you when you are least expecting it, that swoops in and takes the happiness out of your soul. It causes you to question every action, every move and every last word. You feel guilty for the decisions you had to make, yet you know they were the correct ones. You know your loved one is free of pain, and part of you feels selfish for grieving as you are. The truth is, there is nothing easy about death.
As the cloud lifts and life begins to return to some type of normal, you quickly realize that this ‘normal’ is still an altered state of reality. There is a place missing at the dinner table, and a chair not full in the living room. There are floods of memories at every step, and tears beckoning release. There are also plans to be made. People to call. Friends to thank. And more tough decisions to be made. Well wishers ask you every day how you are doing. You are grateful that they care, but sometimes wish they would just let you rest. The truth is, death is exhausting.
And then there are the moments that you remember how much pain they were facing. How scared they were of the future and of the road ahead of them. You remember how you talked about all of these hard decisions, and how they told you firmly the decisions that must be made. You remember the joy of the last few days, and the pain of the last few hours, and then you weep again, this time with thanksgiving, that your loved one is now at peace. The truth is, death is a beautiful thing.
One week ago today my mother – in – law died. She was facing a courageous battle with early onset Alzheimers, but it was an infection that trapped her. We have been dealing with loosing the mother we knew for the past two years since her diagnosis, but there wasn’t much at all that prepared us for her death as she was admitted to the hospital last Saturday with a fever. Tuesday she began to crash, and 36 hours later, on June 1st at 1055pm, she passed peacefully in her sleep with her children and brother at her side.
The past seven days have been an emotional rollar-coaster, dealing with her sudden death, yet also being thankful that she is no longer facing the fear of the future that is called Alzheimers. We have had amazing support out-pouring from family, friends, and the community. There are not words to thank everyone enough for their amazing support. Today we celebrated her life, along side approximately 200 well wishers. I know she was present today, because she kept giving us little hints to the fact. As we completed her internment a thunderstorm came overhead, surrounding the Mary Garden with lightening, and coating us in the ‘wet stuff’, as she called rain.
I do not come tonight with only teary news, though. The Sunday before Beth passed, Nathan proposed, giving me a family ring that his mother had given us about a month ago. Sunday night we were able to share the good news with her, and see her excitement about our future. Knowing I have her blessing with her son, and her love in my heart, made the past 10 days an even bigger mixed bag of emotions. We plan to have our ceremony next summer, in the Mary Garden where we placed her ashes today…a plan we have had for a long time, which also had her loving blessing.
Life is fragile, hug the ones you love.