My mother quietly passed away Monday morning, here at home with her hand in mine. For three days we sat vigil by her bedside, listening to her breathe, even counting her breaths for hours throughout the night. Breath, breath, breath, stop, breath, breath, breath, stop, while two clocks in the room ticked the minutes away. And then the breaths were no more. The silence was a shock. A moment later I noticed the clock still ticked, so I reached over and stopped it. The agony was over but the grief had just begun.
During the long vigil I whispered loving things into Mom's ear. There's so much to say to someone we love when they're dying. No regrets, no confessions, just loving encouragement for a job well done, a life well lived, and promises of paradise and God's loving arms waiting to receive her. Sometimes I sang songs to her during the long nights. A few times I fell asleep with my head on her arm, aching for my mother because I was still her child. Steve played quiet songs for her on his recorder in the day and it seemed to soothe her breathing. Audrey and Tess came to hold her hand when I needed to leave the room. We prayed and cried as those hours and days ticked by. She was never conscious but we assumed she heard all we said and did.
How close and thin is the veil that separates us from eternity. Just there, on the other side of a breath, angels do the Lord's bidding. Yet, how wide the chasm that separates our living reach from those on the other side.
Friends came by to pray and talk. They dropped off meals every day, sometimes even two.We felt the love. I hope Mom felt it, too. In spirit, she's passed on to her eternal home with God and all her loved ones who have gone before her. In body, she begins her journey home to New York today. Oh how she longed to go home!