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Monday, March 7, 2011

Beauty In Death...


Something quite profound has touched my life recently. A girlfriend’s eighty-four year-old grandfather died suddenly. Even though he was showing the early signs in the first stages of Alzheimer’s disease, he and his eighty-two year-old wife remained living in their family home. His wife of sixty-two years was beginning to fuss about how she would continue to physically care for him. After a wonderful, albeit typical morning coffee time visit with a friend, he settled into the passenger side of the vehicle and when his friend came around to help him engage the seatbelt, he was gone.  Just like that, he gifted his lovely and revered wife any decisions she might have to make surrounding his care. He had lived a full, rich and love-filled life and it was time to go.
There is beauty in death if we take time to see it…
Over six years ago, after a stroke and an incidental finding of inoperable cancer, my mama had a wish to die at home. Along with my dad, my siblings and some amazing earth angels called Palliative Care Nurses, we ensured that this could happen. My mom had been a beautiful dancer but the stroke had left her legs in such a state that she could not bear weight on them in order to walk independently and of course, would never dance again. Facing him and supported atop his feet, my dad would guide her to the bathroom, the living room and the bedroom. He called this “The Dance” and one evening with his grand singing voice, as he guided her to bed, he sang, “Could I have this dance for the rest of my life…” 

On beauty in death, Kahlil Gibram writes
Dry your tears, my friends, and raise your heads as the flowers
Raise their crowns to greet the dawn.
Look at the bride of Death standing like a column of light
Between my bed and the infinite;
Hold your breath and listen with me to the beckoning rustle of
Her white wings.

As I sat at the dining room table that evening and in the moment when my dad danced my mom to her bed, my brother’s eyes met mine and without any words spoken between us, I discovered beauty in death - for this I am truly grateful. I invite you to share with me, your stories about this remarkable beauty that endures even in what might be our darkest moments.
…Ellyn