Four years ago on Thanksgiving Day, she told my son-in-law that she wouldn't make it to another year. She was wrong.
But she left last night, finally, after a long decline and several weeks of sad suffering none of us should ever have to experience. We were there with her at ten to six. In fact, alone in the room with her, I timed her labored, shallow breaths, thinking that if I would hear any change whatsoever, we'd stay beside her. But I heard nothing.
We thought it best to get Dad out of the room for a time since he'd been there for several hours, and she'd been almost unresponsive for a couple of days already. There was nothing to do there, really, but wait. "We'll take you to church," we said, thinking he'd like that, his kids with him, and he did.
We no more than got there, sat down, and the call came. Mom had died.
For awhile, I thought she might wait another 48 hours so her funeral procession would come through town simultaneous with the Tulip Time parade. She was its queen, afterall, in 1940. Instead, she departed on Mother's Day and her only grandson's birthday.
Now she is gone. We've lived our lives in parenthesis for a long, long time--two and one-half years of hospice care she would never have chosen for herself, a woman who, more than anything, didn't want to be a bother.
An hour or so later, my son-in-law said he wondered who she'd be talking to right then. Nobody knows, really, what it is we come into the moment after death. Are the streets paved with gold? Is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing Handel? I just don't know--no one does.
But after seeing her suffer the way she has, I'd like to think that what she's seeing right now--right away--is a perfect dawn, the sky so laden with heavenly color that she simply forgets herself altogether and swims in sheer beauty, surrounded and even enfolded by a cloud of silent witnesses.
For the first time in months, it's all easy. It's not hard at all for her to be entirely overwhelmed by nothing less than the grace of the Lord. She takes a deep breath--her first in months--and stands straight as a beauty queen within all that glory. No one knows for sure, but whatever shape God's own glory takes, I know it's peace that finally reigns within her.