I have been remiss in my updates here. It’s been a busy time at work, and to a certain extent at home. The work’s not done, maybe I can talk about it once it has been. But there have been some big events of late. My mom’s husband, Tom, died (see below.) After his death, and I hope for some recovery, she came out to visit spending about two weeks with us. During that time, we went down to LA for a good friend’s wedding, went hiking in the woods, and walking around. We ate out, we ate in. 3 generations of my ladies came into the city to have lunch with me at work. One of the things that my mom wanted to share with us were the following notes that she made during the last few weeks of his life as he battled cancer. It was touching enough that I wanted to share it.
I hear the moans, the unburdening of a lifetime.
The sorrows lift off; the anger dissipates; the fears evaporate,
Leaving a soul more lithe and clean, preparing to travel, to leave the body which will not
notice its departure and will not mourn its loss.
From across the room I answer, a moan of my own grief, a greeting of comfort, an
acknowledgment of presence — the elemental communion.
My bad attitudes are lined up like so many complaining shoppers at a customer service desk.
I talked to a woman who was unhappy with “Waiting for Death”. We discovered, she and I, that if you flipped it over to “Holding onto Life”, it worked much better.
Interrupted sleep is pushing in this unruly line, but tonight I can only help one.
I have put up my little sign: “Back in Five Minutes”.
A strong man slowly giving up his body…
Supine, sleeping, sublime, stretched out on the couch.
Sleep claims him greedily
In his hands he holds Big Bear’s foot.
A soft moan now and then.
A low lift of the chest.
The body asks for less.
Invisible forces of death at work.
Invisible mustering of Spirit for the next trip.
To be continued..
Four buzzards hunching on a limb out back, their backs to the house — not a sign.
Three crows cawing — a welcome salutation on this winter day.
Inside, growing confusion in my dying husband — an unwelcome sign.
Sleeping followed by more sleeping — a passage in progress.
Outside, a pair of bluebirds inspect their birdhouse vacated when winter first sent them south.
Newly arrived robins flit, hop and check the frozen bird bath.
Against mailboxes 2007 phone books tilt in their fresh white bags.
The signs are here: a life is passing; a cycle is coming back around; another season in transition.
I watch; I am part of the universal death and rebirth.
Thank you for the sunshine in my life.
Thank you for the fullness of your love.
Thank you for the adventure, the friendship, the comfort, the warmth of your body, the depth of your soul.
Thank you for those rare but magical waltzes.
Thank you for the best years of your life, and the best of mine.
We will carry on in the life to come.
(Inspired by the song “Sunshine” heard on the radio a few days earlier)
When I read you my poem on Valentine’s Day, you whispered, “I love you”.
When, in the wee hours of February 16th, I passed on to you the message that your mama wanted you to come home, that she wanted to love you, take you in her arms and rock you, and care for you and make you well, to comfort you and keep you safe, you quieted from your fevered unrest and slipped peacefully away. Godspeed, my beloved. Fare The Well. Around 6:00 am that morning I looked out the bathroom window to see the bright morning star centered alone in the waning night’s sky. Ahh, you made the journey — I got your message.
Around 4:00 AM, two people came to pick up your body for its trip to the Virginia Anatomical Society — your gift to science and education.
Elinor Vernam Dobbins Capehart Murray
February 23, 2007
Varina Public Library (Richmond, Virginia)