Hooking up with Mama Kat again this week. Enjoy.
I awoke that morning to the sun shining brightly off the newly fallen snow. I wandered to your living room and opened your curtains. I was greeted by at least a half a dozen goldfinches sitting in the tree outside your picture window. The branch they resided on was weighted down with the heavy, wet snow and hung directly in front of your window. Today they didn’t fight over the feeder hanging on the window. Instead they sat in silence. They already knew what I didn’t yet know. Today was the day.
I showered and dressed for the day. I fumbled through the food in the kitchen. Nothing sounded good but anything was going to be better than hospital food. So I ate. Nothing memorable, but something, no doubt, from a box. I bundled for the trip out into the unexpected winter wonderland. I think of the irony of the snowstorm that came the day you were born. Still I didn’t know that today was the day.
I warmed my car and headed out to the hospital. The normally 10 minute drive lasted more than 25 minutes. I never thought I’d get there. The streets were plowed as best as could be expected. The snow was piled higher than my car and pushed into the middle of the street. It was weird not being able to see the other side of Main Street in your tiny little town.
Finally I arrived. I took the elevator up to the second floor – the top floor of this small town hospital. I journeyed to the Hospice room where you were laying. It was my turn to sit with you. It was time for your beloved husband to have a break. He and I chatted for a few minutes before he gathered his coat and headed out.
I took his place in the chair next to your bed. You made no motions indicating that you knew I was there. It had been days since we’d had a real conversation. I missed the sound of your voice. I played the last voicemail you left me over and over. I sat quietly for a while. I tried to rest my hand on your arm, to let you feel my presence. You winced and I moved so that my hand simply rested near yours. You seemed content with that.
After a short time I realized that today’s visit was different. It occurred to me that you were separating from us. You were moving closer and closer to saying goodbye. Something in my heart told me that you were hanging on. I knew what you needed and only I could give it to you.
The day you were diagnosed you called me and we cried. I promised to take care of you. I promised to be there for you no matter what. When I called to tell you we were going to finish the basement you asked if I would be willing to take in your husband and son if they needed help. I told you I would take care of them no matter what. We’d had these conversations multiple times throughout the past year. But, the end was near. I knew you needed to hear it one more time.
I leaned close to you. I spoke quietly so only you could hear. I told you the tales of the fun our boys had been having in their time together, how they played more like brothers than cousins. I told you we all would be fine, that we would miss you, but that we wanted you to be free from pain. Finally I made the promise I knew you needed to hear and that I needed to say. I will take care of your husband and your son. I will watch over them both. I will make sure that we continue to get together a few times every year. I promise that their lives will go on without you and that they will find happiness. I promise that they will be ok.
I gave you one last look when I left the hospital that morning. I knew in my heart it would be the last time I would see you alive.
At 3am my phone rang. I woke up before it rang and I knew as soon as I heard it that you were gone. I drove to the hospital in a daze. I entered the room and looked at your body. It was lifeless. There was no feeling of you left in the room. I cried. I hugged your husband. I kissed your forehead. I told you I love you one last time. I prayed that you heard me.
Later your husband would tell me that for two nights prior to your death you would wake up around midnight. You looked into the corner of your room and shook your head no. On the night that you died you woke up just the same. You looked into the corner of your room and shook your head yes. You went back to sleep. You awoke at 3, lifted your hand toward the corner, opened your eyes wide and then you were gone. You had the promise you needed to find peace in whatever lies beyond.