On June 8th I said to my Mom, within her physical earshot, one last time that I love her. I think she could hear me, and understood what I said, even though she could not respond. I told her it was okay to let go of this life— to remember all the people she loves, the sights, smells and textures she adores, to think of them as she left this plane to embark on another journey elsewhere.
She fought it for a time- is that the state to which Dylan Thomas was referring to when he penned, “Do not go gentle into that good night?” Mom then settled into a state of peace and slipped quietly from this earth during the early pre-dawn hours. I felt her spirit leave. A nursing assist did as well. She opened the room’s door and poked her head in just as I tried to find a pulse on Mom’s ankle.
The hospital sent a dripping wet-behind-the-ears intern to pronounce Mom as deceased. He did not appear to be old enough to shave. He could barely talk above a whisper as he looked at Mom’s shell, and was so close to tears as he offered up his condolences. After the poor kid left, my sister and I decided the staff “threw him under the bus” as we hugged each other and cried. I can’t quite see the creepy chills he experienced in my mind’s eye any more, but I still feel them.
When we held Mom’s service, I watched a swallowtail butterfly flit and flutter in the green belt that served as a back drop behind the service podium. I thought the butterfly had an unprecidented interest in Mom’s service. I decided that it was a sign from Mom that she was there in spirit. Ironically, I’ve seen more swallowtail butterflies this summer than I ever have in my whole life.