May Seventeen

Four years ago today, you died.

Although you had 52 years of a marriage that I observed as perfect, four children, many grandchildren, a life lived full circle – you didn’t live long enough to get old.

You were a month into your 74th year; still working, enjoying life, traveling.  You were still young.  I suppose I thought you’d live to be an old woman, like your mother did.

But if you had, who’d have taken care of you as tenderly as you assisted your own mother who, for many more years than I realized, did indeed need your constant support for the tasks of daily living so that she could remain ensconced in her own home, her nest, the place she preferred, above all?

Your daughters – my sister and me – live in different states. You would not have wanted to move from your home to either of ours had that  become necessary.   Or to some other place: a condo, a community.  I guess I’d envisioned me taking you on outings, the way you did with your mother, and we’d continue to enjoy our time together until we were both old.  That didn’t happen.

The illness that invaded came swiftly in March and you took your final earthly breath at about 7:45pm, four years ago today. I don’t think you worried; I think you were blessed with equal parts awareness and peacefulness, and your death came closer each day for the seven weeks of your final journey.

Of course, Dad was at your side every moment; standing ready as always  to meet your needs. To provide nourishment if you wanted it.  Comfort, that he was there.  He did not impede your journey to Christ by extraordinary means for he understood that you both knew that in dying we are born to eternal life.  He wanted that for you.  He just hoped it’d have happened about ten years later.  He pinned a lovely, fragrant gardenia onto the lapel of your suit as your body was there for our final goodbyes.  The ultimate tender gesture of a marriage between two people who took care of each other.

I think you had a good death, as far as death goes.  If we think about life in terms of what we believe as Christians,  then we have to be comforted by the promise of eternal life. And I am.

But I miss you.  Now, I’ve made Dad listen to me these past four years; listen to the vicissitudes of my own life, which, by the way, is not where I want it to be, the same as when you were living and comforting me about the same frustrations.  I want my mom to tell me that everything will be all right.  You were so good at gleaning the positive and going from there, and it’s helped me, truly.  I think there are many lessons you’ve taught me that have blossomed since you left.  Is that you? Helping me from Heaven?  Whatever it is, there are some days when I really understand what you’d been trying to say, and other days when I still want to cry and and complain and have my mother tell me it’s all going to work out just fine.

Your absence has been strange.  I don’t know how else to describe it.  I am thankful I wasn’t a child when you went, or even a very young adult.  I was lucky to have you for as long as I did…too many lose parents too young.  I can see you.  But I only experienced you once since you’ve been gone.   I think the lessons you tried to impart (and probably, frustratingly so, now that I think of it) are working…why do things take so long?!  Still, I want and need some reassurance from my mother, unreasonably childish, I know this, yet who else is there besides Dad who will indulge me?  I don’t want to bore him to tears; I think I might already have done that.

You’re in Heaven: can you predict the future?  How much longer until things will be the way we want them to be, Mom?  Can you visit me and tell me the future?

Of course, I’m kidding.  You were not superstitious nor am I.  You would have told me what was said at Peter’s funeral, something real, but without deadlines or timelines or promises of anything specific: “God is Good…All the Time.”