Walking Each Other Home


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.