Sunday morning I received a call from an unknown number. It was the hospice nurse in charge of my client. The end had come. My first thought was, “Who’s going to take down and pack away the cherished crayon signs stuck to the side of the bureau? The unicorns and rainbows dancing around the words ‘MOMS AL BETTER!'” I pictured her the second and last time we were together and thought of her sleeping peacefully.
Of course, this wasn’t unexpected and I had not been there in the end. A sense of calm sadness hung over me so I went to the barn. I grabbed my partner, Night, out of her field and tacked up in silence. There was no one around and Night and I rarely speak out loud, but I have no doubt we are constantly locked in conversation: sense of the breeze, flies on our skin, warm smells simmering. I rode out through the woods letting Night pick the direction and speed. Every rock and blade of grass stood out in sharp relief, the sounds of turkeys scampering through the leaves, the wind in the pines were almost too loud to bear. My senses felt infused with the life that had gone from another. I once again looked at death, the end we must all face, and what it has to teach me about the present.
Today, I knew the funeral home would have all the details. When her picture popped up, a face unrecognizable to me, I shut my eyes for one final view of her as I remembered her. When I reopened them, it was to first light a candle. Cheesy, Internet, cyber-hugs that I hate, but a gesture and a deep breath were needed to go forward. Then I began to read.
This woman was academically brilliant. She had traveled and contributed so much to the world in her short life. She was a Doctor, a PhD in a subject I know nothing about. I couldn’t pronounce most of the research that was mentioned. She was a published and much sought after speaker in her field. I never heard her to speak of those subjects.
When we talked it was about her gardens. She told me she and her husband were so poor when they bought the property, she gathered seeds and sealed them with tags so she could keep adding a bit each season. That was the language we shared. Is that what meant the most to you in the end? What did you have teach me? Her obituary was beautifully written, perhaps she had a hand in it.