If the end is the December of our lives, then these were the last days of that cold winter month. Frost still collects on the leaves and the squirrels are still burrowed underground, or in their dreys, until a warm sun can coax them out.
I spent hours on the trail these past few years and Dorothy indulged me all my photos and stories. Occasionally, they would trigger a story of her own adventures with George and we would talk into early evening on our Saturdays together. I can only imagine the free spirit she used to be.
Everything has fallen silent now.
In the past month I lost count of the days I feared might be her last. I would keep vigil overnight, kept awake by the sudden gasps that I thought might be her final breaths. Would she even want me there ? I started to wonder if my constant presence might be intrusive. If maybe she needed to let go alone, in her own way and on her own terms. And so I stopped sleeping in the stiff, awkward loveseat in her room and opted instead for my own bed.
Early Sunday morning, with no one around, she slipped peacefully away. I’ve heard it suggested that we choose our final moment. It didn’t surprise me that she chose to go it alone.
I have so many feelings churning but I keep moving forward. It is the only thing I know to do. Mindfully and mindlessly at once. As a believer in symbolism I was elated at the messages these past three days.
First, on Sunday night came the perfect rainbow hanging boldly in the sky. Monday, as I began my trek to the wildlife refuge, I walked past a series of hangars at the Gray’s Harbor airport. (The symbolism of those silent stalls not lost on me.) And finally, Tuesday morning, an angel cloud in the morning sky.
A message from beyond that she had arrived safely.
It somehow seemed fitting to me that I would travel new roads on Monday. A new trail, a new walk, a few new state parks. If she could do this new thing, surely I could do a new thing too. And so it was. A new day.
I will have more to say. The business of dying is complicated and people need to understand it, well ahead of actually NEEDING, to understand it. It amounts to an intense weekend of planning and talking and paperwork. But it matters. And once it is done, you can get on with the business of living.
“The trouble is you think you have time”
For now, I’ll allow myself time to grieve, time to get back to the things and people that center me and ground me to my own place at this big table of life. Rest in peace, my dear friend. You’ll be missed here. I’ll think of you with every sputter of a small plane and every empty hangar. With every sandwich on a Hawaiian roll and on every walk through a new forest. I’ll be wonder and joy and live a big life. Thanks for being my friend ♡