In the last part of life, there can be joy
Recently we lost a dear friend who lived with us at our assisted living facility.
She was one of those people who, no matter how bad she felt, she almost never stopped smiling that beautiful smile. We all loved her dearly.
Her name is Eileen. Her death has left a void, and no matter how I prayed, I couldn’t get over the fact that she went and I stayed. It was the “leaving part” with which I struggled.
Then one day, soon after she passed, I found a poem. I want to share it with my readers and hope it may help you if you feel that aloneness for someone who has passed.
“I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze
and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white clouds just where the sea and the sky come to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says, ‘There, she is gone.’
Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
Her diminished size is in us, not in her.
And it was just at that moment when someone at my side says,
‘There, she is gone.’
There are other eyes watching her coming
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, ‘Here she comes.’
And that is dying.”
I sat still with my palms open and faced heavenward. Both feet rested on the floor, and my body was at ease. I closed my eyes and left the soothing word to touch my soul.
Having been raised on an island, I knew about seashores and horizons and the mingling of sea and sky. I had watched from my wood frame front porch as a boat sailed away until it was no longer in my sight. But never, ever, had I followed her into the beyond, never feeling the need to ride the wave across.
Puzzled, I continue to be still because suddenly I knew it was the unknowingness of it that keeps us in grief, prevents us from taking that first step into a new life without her in it.
My eyes fell to the word, “Here she comes.” My ending with her was a new beginning for her.
The poems last sentence, “And that is dying.” My sadness remains, but the sting is gone. Now every time I pass her door, I say out loud, “Here she comes.”
Somewhere in the last part of life on Earth, there is joy.
And the view from the mountain is wondrous.
Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.