Doing life so close to my mom during her last five months on earth brought a flood of fresh experiences that I would have missed had I not been by her side. Conversations took place that hadn’t ever surfaced. Moments occurred over meals that wouldn’t have been shared. Special pockets of time enjoyed that only happened because she was ill. Because she was dying.
As hard as the days can be, these lasting impressions bring us joy and peace as we mourn the reality of today. Bolstering us with hope, they bring comfort when we mourn the presence of our loved one. Memories that can bring a smile to our faces as we drive past an old regular stomping ground. Recollections can spark a spontaneous laugh walking through a familiar store. Thoughts that can bring tears, sometimes lots of them, as sadness shares space with the sacred.
One of our readers, Kathleen, shares her experience with us:
“There is a memory that stands out when I think back on the time of my dad’s death. The evening when we called everyone to his bedside because we thought he was about to pass at any moment. My brother, sisters, mother and I crowded around his bed, and then, spontaneously, the ‘ I remember when dad…” stories began erupting. My dad had been unresponsive for a couple days at this point so we were all shocked when we saw him respond in even the slightest way. My mother told the story about the time dad had surprised her one night by bringing home perfumed bath oils. It was such an unexpected gift that she ran upstairs and poured a good amount into her bath water. But when she came downstairs shortly after, dad started yelling ” Wash that soap off before I have an asthma attack!” This got us all laughing, when my mom, who had been holding my dad’s hand during her story, said she felt him give her hand a squeeze. My sister remembered back to the time my parents and her son had traveled out to visit me in Denver, and how the police had been called because her son had been shooting a BB gun at tin cans in my backyard. As we all stood on my front porch talking to the officer, my old bulldog came sauntering over and nonchalantly peed on the policeman’s shoe. That got the corner of my dad’s mouth to curl up into a lopsided grin. For an hour the stories flowed and we knew that dad was in there listening. And then, just as naturally the stories stopped and people went home. A few hours later my dad died, at home and in his own bed, just as he had wanted. This is the memory of my dad’s death that I cherish. It makes me teary and smile all at the same time.”
Hospice Nurse and Founder of Death and Dying Chronicles
What memories have you made during this season that have brought joy, closeness, and peace? We would love for you to share them in the comments below.