This past week my wife and I made a bittersweet trip to Boston to see Heather’s mom. On Tuesday she had gone into acute kidney failure and we were told she probably had two days to two weeks to live. Just over 12 hours later we were on a plane to Massachusetts. We had four beautiful, tender, difficult days with her before we had to come back to Wisconsin.
Along with all her other health issues, she is also in the beginning stages of dementia. She still recognized us and smiled ear to ear when we walked into her hospital room. We arrived just before she was taken away to insert tubes to drain her kidneys. When she came back she was super thirsty. The childlike wonder with which she sucked on the grape popsicle that the nurse brought to her was priceless.
She loved hearing about the bountiful marigolds we saw on the way to visit her. I don’t know where the strawberry image came from, but I have no doubt her playful humor was at work in me.
While we were there she stabilized enough to be discharged to a nursing home where she will have hospice care. We ordered in a simple mushroom pizza to celebrate. She made a special request for ginger ale to go with it. “Delicious!” she declared as if she were having them for the first time.
I spent time simply sitting with her, holding her hand. As I reached for her hand, she reached back for mine, just like a child holding a parent’s hand for comfort and security. All life’s layers shed away and we were just two souls sharing time together. And then her inner child came out again. “Your skin is so soft!” she exclaimed with a sense of wonder in her voice.
My last image of her is lying in her bed, a big but tired smile on her face, reaching her hand out from under her covers just enough to wave goodbye.
It could have been a trip that was only about sadness and loss and grief. But instead we also saw great beauty and love and tenderness, as we all opened our hearts and we were whole and complete, embracing life’s seasons.
I embrace life’s seasons
I feel whole and complete