Wednesday, June 8, 2011


My neighbor Judi’s sister is dying; she's under hospice care now. She has stopped eating, mostly sleeps, awakens every now and then with a smile to see her sisters, including those from Massachusetts, around her. She is at death’s door.

I brought Judi a pasta salad today so she can eat on the go; she gave me a Hospice book, “Gone from My Sight,” about the dying experience, which I had said I was interested in. I put down my Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws to browse through it.

The booklet, by Barbara Karnes, RN, opens: “Death comes in its own time, in its own way. Death is as unique as the individual who is experiencing it.” She then gives the signs of death, from withdrawal to having no interest in food, to sleeping most of the time; “going inward” she calls it. “Words lose their importance,“ she says, and “a different kind of energy is needed, a spiritual energy rather than physical energy.”

This all makes sense. It happened with my dad, with my mom, although I was ignorant of death and signs of it. I don’t know how it was for my brother (that grieves me), or if he recognized the signs of death, or the tremendous stress on his body from being overweight and out of shape. I have some books about death and dying next to my bed, but haven't read them yet. Not when I’m in the middle of Steig Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and also John Grisham’s fun novel Playing for Pizza.

Maybe I need to get my priorities straight! Actually, I do find myself collecting some nice things that can be said at one’s funeral, anyone's funeral. Here’s one, for example, that my sister Andy and her daughter Ali chose for my brother’s memorial gathering.

Afterglow (photo above right)
I’d like the memory of me
To be a happy one. I’d like
To leave an afterglow of smiles
When day is done. I’d like
To leave an echo. . .
Whispering softly down
the ways of laughing times
and bright and sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those
Who grieve to dry before
The sun of happy memories
that I leave behind
When day is done.

Very nice, I think. I don’t know the author, but the thoughts are upbeat, and the concept of "Afterglow" is wonderful. I think Loren liked this.

There are also several poems that begin: “I’m Free.” And there’s “A Scot’s Farewell,” which can be a comforting farewell for a person of any ethnic background who comes "to the end of the road."

A Scot’s Farewell
When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me
I want no tears in a gloom-filled room
Why cry for a soul set free?
Miss me a little but not for long
And not with your head bowed low
Remember the love that we once shared.
Miss me…but let me go.

For this is a journey we all must take
And each must go alone.
It’s all a part of the master plan
A step on the road to home.

When you are lonely and sick of heart
Go to the friend we know
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds.
Miss me…but let me go.

No author here either, but I like this one. Straightforward, honest, hopeful. Let me go. Do good deeds. Life goes on.

Judi’s sister’s body, her physical presence, is at the end of the road, her soul on its way to a new place, wherever that may be. It’s hardest on the loved ones, but I find comfort in these words of wisdom, and in the idea of a soul set free.

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