Moving On

I had all kinds of things planned for today: a giveaway, a rumination, a weekend update, but my beloved Rebecca is back in the hospital after being in the convalescent home for two weeks.

 

I don’t think it’s good, it’s looking like renal failure, and the blustery November wind that I love so, is blowing extra hard today.

 

I can’t hate November. It’s always been a grandma to me, each year I nestle in her arms waiting for the stories she’ll tell. The days darkening, the whispering leaves, the burping soup, vintage November. A kid who’d watch November night gather, and afterward clutch a book by the fire, I believed Lucy climbed through a wardrobe to a new world beset with ice and witches, that Meg’s dad was lost in the tesseract, that Taran found the iron kettle.

 

More stories unfold. Year after year, they remain to be told. Tomorrow is 11 years since my mom died, when I whispered in her ear that I’d write a book. And if ever it happens, it will be November. So I guess that’s it. November is for the stories that circle our heads like the leaves, like the crows, like the dead.

 

The November wind blows. I put my face to it.

 

I think I’ll go see Rebecca now. Even when she asked me not to. And the November wind blows.

 

************************************************************************************

 

She wanted to be alone. She’s preparing to die. I can tell, I’ve seen it before. I hate this time. I hate not being able to reach the person I love and pull them back. I know the look, the smell, the cold distance. I hate it. I couldn’t help but sob in front of her, and maybe she didn’t want to have my grief weigh on her as she goes. Should I have stayed? I considered it. Just camping out on the visitor’s chair as she slept, and maybe she wouldn’t care. But I know Rebecca, and she asked me to leave, so I did.

 

She’s weak and mumbling, then sure and alert. But mostly weak. I’ve seen it before. She recited scripture, said something about a “mercy seat.” I don’t know what that means, but yes I do. I want to be there, I beseeched her, held her hand as I left, and felt its chill through my glove. I know what that means. I’ve felt it before.

 

As I walked through the lobby, a piano played “White Christmas,” and the thought of life going on, of the holidays approaching as someone I loved lay dying, knocked me over. I want her to stay, I want her to stay. But I think she’ll be gone tomorrow. November 10. I know how that feels. I’ve been there before.

 

Two people I love gone. Maybe leaving the same day, though 11 years apart. It’s OK. It’s going to be OK.

 

************************************************************************************

 

I don’t know what happens when people die

Can’t seem to grasp it as hard as I try

It’s like a song I can hear playing right in my ear

That I can’t sing

I can’t help listening

And I can’t help feeling stupid standing round

Crying as they ease you down

cause I know that you’d rather we were dancing

Dancing our sorrow away

(right on dancing)

No matter what fate chooses to play

(there’s nothing you can do about it anyway)

 

Just do the steps that you’ve been shown

By everyone you’ve ever known

Until the dance becomes your very own

No matter how close to yours

Another’s steps have grown

In the end there is one dance you’ll do alone

 

(Jackson Browne, “For a Dancer”)

 

14 thoughts on “Moving On”

  1. Oh, my. I am so sorry to hear this. I admit, I wouldn’t know what to do in your shoes – stay or leave?

    when my dad died – stricken with pneumonia, he spent two weeks in ICU – the whole family had flown down to Texas to be with him. My siblings and I spent the day that was to be his last taking turns sitting with him. He was sedated and on a respirator.

    My mom and dad’s best friends cooked dinner for all of us, and we went over to eat, trying to decide who would go back to the hospital that night

    Dad waited until we’d gone to dinner to pass.

    It’s ultimately the most private thing in the world a human being can do, I guess.

  2. I lost my mom around the same time. It sucks she doesn’t get to see Sienna. Or that I don’t get to see her SEEING Sienna.

    But I have Ana’s mom, so I’m very lucky for that. Family is so important to me.

  3. You have been very present for her, a good friend. She loves you, Deb. You know that. And now she wants to be alone in what might be her final hours/days. I guess she must have heard that Jackson Brown song, or maybe she taught it to him. In the end, despite the presence or absence of our loved ones, we dance that last dance alone.
    You have done this before, so you know how much it hurts, and scars. And you’ll survive. You’ll remember. And personally, I see those scars in people as signs of beauty. They are part of the richness of life. They make you who you are. And you are just great!
    Peace, Deb. Good luck to you and to Rebecca. Please let us know how it turns out.

  4. You’re in my thoughts. I’m sorry about Rebecca, you will certainly keep her memory alive by remembering everything she taught you and how happy you were when you were with her.

  5. My condolences–but what a gift you are to be with your friend while she gets ready to leave.
    I admire your good attitude toward November. I struggle with appreciating this month.

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