“Open the door. He’s telling me what to do.”
Her eyes were on the ceiling, over my head. She studied whatever it was she saw very seriously. I asked her who it was and she shrugged. I asked her if it was Jesus and she mumbled, “I don’t know”. But still she stared. I saw a mixture of fear and maybe agitation in her eyes. Her brows were knitted together. She studied him hard. I finally said, “Listen to him. He loves you.”
I’ve witnessed the beginning of life first hand, and now the end of life. The ultimate joy, the heart crushing loss. Honestly, neither were pretty. Both were hard and messy and full of anxiety. When will it happen? Will I be ready? What will I do once it’s over? The only catch is with a birth you’re left with a little human to love, raise and adore. With death, you’re left with a hole, an empty place where a human once presided in your life. With both, you’re required to have incredible faith. Faith that you can be all that person needs you to be in that moment. And now, now that the moment has come and gone, still wondering if it was enough, if you’ll be enough.
My mother-in-law passed this weekend. We knew the end was coming. We saw the affects of cancer claim her body. And even though it was excruciating to watch her struggle, there is a bond that feels stronger than it ever has before. Even with her gone, I feel closer to her than ever. Dot fought, she persisted, she demanded that her body breathe. We all told her that it was okay…that she would be safe and never alone. I felt the truth of those words in her room in the middle of the night, and I still feel it now.
Dot told us all that she wanted her passing to be happy…no sappy funeral, nothing but celebration. She liked to laugh way too much to ever settle for sappiness. But still… all I can do is think, but what about Thanksgiving and your grandkids and your black pie and sugar cookies? You haven’t taught me how to make dressing yet. You were going to show me your favorite dress and your favorite book. We were supposed to have one more day to do all those things.
The sad thing is, we’d just had a lifetime.
A lifetime of moments and conversations and meals and family. It turns out that even a lifetime is not enough.
I’ve read that death is like walking from one room to the next. You simply close one door and open another. I pray for that transition, for that simple step of walking out, walking in. I pray that for Dot she simply bounded into the next room, her energy back, her laugh loud and strong, her spirit filling up that wonderfully bright new room in a flash.