Goodbye…and hello

February 19, 2017

My hospice patient died this morning. She was 98 years old, bright and in good spirits to the end. She was ready. She had no regrets and was eager to move on. “But I guess I’m not good enough,” she’d say. “God won’t take me.” Her transition was peaceful, her son said. The priest had visited and given her communion. She always felt good after communion. At least, for God, good enough.


I will miss my time with her. We would chat, she would reminisce-she’d had such an interesting life, I never tired of hearing her stories. We prayed the rosary together (I wonder if I’ll ever pray the rosary again?). She had begun wanting to pray the rosary twice each visit. I wonder… but then, hindsight can attach meaning where there is none. Sometimes I read to her, or sang, or put on soft music. She enjoyed it all. She taught me so much about the peace that comes from acceptance and letting go.


Letting go: I visited her for almost exactly a year. She was relatively active when we first met. She crocheted delicate lacy little doilies. She was able to get around on a walker. She washed the dishes, and was relatively independent. But then she fell, and then fell again. No serious injuries, but her legs just wouldn’t hold her up anymore. The last two months or so she was bedridden. No complaints, though. No wishing for what she no longer had. Easily and completely, she let go of crocheting. She let go of walking. She let go of independence. Her acceptance was beautiful. Her peace was inspiring.


I would have liked to have been there at her passing. I would have sung her into her afterlife. I would have washed her and dressed her in her favorite clothes, and put her favorite rosary around her neck like a necklace-the blue one with the fancy cross. It would have been a fitting goodbye. But I am hundreds of miles away, meeting my newborn grandson for the first time. And so it goes. One life ends and another begins. I say goodbye and hello in the same breath. And it all feels pretty good. At least, for me, good enough.


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