by Lucky Garvin
I met her late in her life. They had known about the mass in her belly for about a year. `Only a matter of time before it bursts,’ they had said. `Will it be over quickly?’ she had asked. `Quickly,’ they answered.
So . . . now has been foretold the hour of her passing; and the cause assigned; such news easier to tell than to hear.
This morning I woke up and looked over my list of chores. This list is written down; some chores fun; some not; jobs necessary for living.
But there is another list; no where written down; another list of Chores; some fun, some not; but all of them important; jobs also necessary for life. This `list’ cannot be scheduled. It is strewn subtly through our days; the tasks revealed slowly. This is one. For reasons I cannot fathom – but reasons there must be – she and I are alone in this room.
She lay in front of me dying, wrapped in the cerements and shrouds we call a hospital gown. No need for all the clinical stuff and taking of pulses – we’re past all that. The river has whispered her name. I hold her brown-spotted, arthritic hands; what else is there to do?
She is old. But if you erase the wrinkles, the spots – all the signs of a life long-lived – she must have once been a `looker’. But then, trying to see us from the Creator’s eyes, I conclude that to God, we are all `lookers’- even if we are not . . .
I bethought me of the old story I read in a book by Max Lucado; a story called, “Beethoven’s Harpsichord.” In old age, Beethoven went stone-deaf. It must have seemed strange to see him playing a harpsichord – without strings – and crying softly at the beauty of the ‘sound.’ The answer lies in Beethoven’s gift: he could hear the notes in his mind. So it was beside the point that the harpsichord was broken. He cried for the beauty of the music it could have made . . . had it not been broken. I am – each of us sometimes are – our Creator’s harpsichord.
I look back to my lady; to my new friend, and fall back to thinking:
From first breath to final sigh, good-byes are a part of living. I am not afraid to die – not any more. I wonder when that riveting fear fell away from me? I’m not afraid to die alone either . . . I don’t think. Alone I came to Earth and alone I must depart; even if I happen to be surrounded by loved ones. Death only comes in one form and all forms of dying have this in common: it’s do-it-yourself.
So for now, I’ll just hold her hand; maybe for her sake; maybe for mine. Who knows?
But in so doing, I am reminded that it is our task – our human obligation – all of us:
To walk each other Home….
Look for Lucky’s books locally and on-line: The Oath of Hippocrates; The Cotillian; A Journey Long Delayed.