The airplane drifted over the memory of the life that I was once knew. A woman who belly danced like a pro. Loved outrageously. Mother to five babies, and one that never experienced this world. Looking down on the city, that looked like a doll house from up above- yet compacted with a never stopping motion and vitality, I remembered her life. I said goodbye, imagined which tiny house was hers, where she lay still, courageously breathing in her last breaths of sweet air. I felt like an absolute baby weeping next to a complete stranger. Shading my eyes, hiding in the small airplane window. I could not get out of my seat. The seat belt light was on. I could not help myself.
Just months ago, I listened to her reassuring voice. She was the strong one. I was the one once again weeping in the corner. How could this stupid blood cancer strip and rob her of such a beautiful life, like a plant that was firmly grounded being ripped out of the dirt before its blossoms. She was not afraid. Or mad. She was the like the rushing and crashing waves, never arguing with the cycle of life. She was ready to be overtaken with beauty. And peace.
I found myself scavenging through the flower beds at a corporate restaurant while forsaking the reality that awaited me miles away. Taking part of the simple pleasures of eating and drinking made me insanely guilty. I found myself once again taking peace in garden tending, removing the dead so the newly bursting blooms could advance. The comfort of seeing the natural process reminded me that life can not end until one is ready. This concept at first used to make me angry. At any first glimpse of death in my garden, perfectionism takes over. Like watching a cocoon and feeling one must aide in the process, one can not rush time. Plucking through the flower bed, I realize my grandma has her own process, her own metamorphosis drifting slowly into her new skin.
I imagine her, laying in her solitary room. Her tongue drying and scabbing, desperately seeking water, bed sores forming. One would be surprised at the overwhelming beauty of watching one die. The softness of her skin. The smell of her breath. The gentleness of her sunken hands. Knowing that in a few shorts days, she will no longer suffer. She will snuggle in the arms of her true love. She will dance with her Savior. She will hold my unborn child.
Lamentation is a whole new meaning these days. Since the day I saw her in this state, there was no response. She was still. Unmoved and untouched by any sound. To speak into her ear made me feel so hopeless, what is the point in speaking to a shell? While I manicured the restaurants untended flower beds, a peace fell over me. I will not give up speaking to her, praying for her, feeling her soft skin. Over this time, I pleaded with God. Let me have one more chance to see her gentle eyes once again. To feel her reciprocating touch. To know that she was aware of my presence. Guilt set in, what a selfish thing to ask. I am asking a woman, who has lived so many years, on her death bed while a tumor devours her body, to do something for me?
Please do not lose me by the “God” talk. One must question the reality of eternity is these times. I can not fathom of one person who does not question the existence of the afterlife and the existence of God when someone dies. Off and on in my life, I have been the doubter. Over the last couple of years, my anchor is firmly grounded that what was said in His Word was true. That there is a place being prepared for us. That when we pray, it does not float into thin air without being seen or heard, until it vanishes into non existence. Prayer, contending with the Father, whether selfish or not, is not fake. Or an illusion. Call it coincidence, I do not, my prayer was answered.
Sitting next to her, tears flowing out of my depths, I wrestled with how one can even begin to say goodbye to a loved one. Up and down I sat, wept in her ears, desperate that she would hear me. Any second ready to run out the door. I bought her a bouquet of flowers, I never knew that the decision between a bouquet of flowers that would soon die and a flower plant would be so hard to make. I chose the ones that would fade. I took one of the red daisies, took a big breath in and out imaging the aroma that one would encounter just before their death. I held it before her nose, dreamed of what flowers would smell like in Heaven. And there she arose before me, murmured soft and subtle “uh huhs,” her delicate fingers squeezed hands. The shape of her lips as she held the drops of water in her mouth. The slight puckered lips waiting for our kisses. The family shared serious stories. Silly stories of inside family secrets of being thrown into ponds by siblings. Serious stories of not listening to her stories enough, taking in all that she had to offer. Stories of her beauty to love you just as you are. Affirmations of how she carelessly loved those surrounding her.
People always speak of the simple things in life that matter most. These simple movements were the world to me. Her eyelids opening was like seeing the long awaited sunrise, as if I hadn’t seen light for a thousand of years. Her Dorthy, There’s no place like home, newly painted red sparkled toes sent quakes down my spine. Her quiet giggles and smirks at our simple stories. If I were a sponge, I would soaked through with the beauty that happened in these two hours of her wakefulness. I could not hear her say I love you Adrienne, but I could see her barren mouth make out the words.
The denial that I will one day be surrounded by those I love in my last days has been something I have been avoiding like the biggest infectious disease. But I have come to a realization that every one that I know will face these final days. It is up to me, to give out my love, my affection for the one who has set me free. Do I want to be surrounded and overcome with love of others, or full of regret. I will once be parched of food and water. Seeking to go the other side. For now, I see the significance of the life that I and others around me have. The ability to live. To walk, to eat until I am full. To suffer, to hear my rowdy boys fighting. To hear, to listen. To see flowers and life around me.