There is just no good time to die. Period.
I always bristle because people will say of the elderly who pass, "Well, at least they had a long, good life." (Oh, how I hate any sentence that starts with, "At least...")
The truth is, the dead don't really care one way or the other, do they?
It's those of us who are left behind to live without them that really suffer. Miss them. Wish we could give them that one.last.hug.
No matter what, death stings. Becomes embedded in a part of your heart that isn't really ever the same after. By the grace of God, that part doesn't have to win, nor does it have to destroy you, but man...It sure does put up a good battle sometimes.
And whether death is a shock and surprise, or was expected and prayed for to come peacefully, it brings tears.
Tears of sorrow for what will be no more, but hopefully, tears of gratitude for what was and you were privileged enough to be a part of.
Over 25 years ago, I was given a very special gift. It came in an unusual way, and still probably today makes people scratch their heads, but reminds me regularly that loving someone does not require the sharing of blood or DNA. I was given a "bonus family."
For over half my life, I have had the privilege of calling two very special people "Mom" and "Dad" and they've treated me as their own daughter. As extra bonus, I've gotten to call a very precious woman "Grandma" for just as long. They all love Luke, and he adores them. For the past three years, we've lived near enough to visit often, and I've been thankful for the relationship that Luke has been able to share in.
Grandma was 91 on her last birthday. Up until just about a month ago, she was still as sharp as ever, always commenting on Facebook (ALL CAPS, ha ha) and spoiling.Luke.rotten. Whenever we'd visit, she'd give him candy and a bag of coins. It didn't take but one visit for Luke to realize that "Grandma 'Neider" was a great gal and that he and she would be very good friends! For a period, when Luke would ask for something in a store and I'd ask him if he had any money, he'd reply, "Grandma 'Neider money!"
Earlier last week, I hastily packed Luke up and he and I flew up to visit her. She'd been diagnosed with dementia, and hospice had been called in. There was no telling how much longer she had, but her ability to remember people was fading quickly and I wanted her to know we were there. When we last saw her in June before we moved here, I promised her I'd bring Luke back to visit her for her birthday in November. When we got there last week, though not entirely clear in her thinking, she very much remembered I'd promised that, but was glad I was there then. Several times she told me she was glad I came. Several times she talked about Luke and was able to recognize him and smile at some silly antic. Several times I was given a most precious gift in hearing her tell me that she loved me. Without question, she knew us and remembered us, even though if not all the time.
I'd hesitated in going so quickly. Since May, Luke and I have not slept in the same place for more than 11 days in a row. We had friends coming in this week, and John picked us ALL up from the airport as Luke and I returned from Myrtle Beach. Life has been chaotic, and I thought it might be best to wait until yesterday to go.
She passed away very early this morning. In just a few days, her health declined so, so rapidly. She went from asking me to have a cup of coffee with her on Monday to Heaven five days later. I am so glad I decided to go when I did. Instead of looking at this week with regret, I am now forever able to look at her last days as a gift. Selfish, I know, because really, going was more for me than anyone else, but still...a gift. I've had a lot of thoughts rambling in my head this week about how much of a blessing it is to be there in those last, sacred days. That may sound weird, and maybe a little morbid, but it's not. Holding her hand, hugging her...massaging her hands and feet and helping fix her hair so she still felt like as much herself as she could? Just plain grateful.
Knowing she had lived a long, happy life and that she would be reunited our beloved Poppy makes her passing easier, but still, not easy.
Because death just isn't easy. Death means we can no longer make memories with our loved one, and that loss hurts and leaves us feeling lonely, regardless of how many we may have been able to make (or, sadly, not). Death of a loved one often feels like the death of love, doesn't it?
That's what it boils down to. The dead cannot actively love us anymore.
But oh....how we still actively love them.
Today, I'm giving thanks for the presence of an amazing woman in our lives. Giving thanks for the selfless and abundant love that she's always shown me and giving thanks for her joyous reunion with so many she loved and had to watch leave this world before her.
Today, death may claim a small victory, but I'm grateful that in the end, it does not win.
Love never fails.
Love always wins.