I was able to spend several hours with my grandma while she made her journey out of this life. She was at times coherent and at others, she slept and was unresponsive. During those times, my mind wandered. I remember caring for my dad during the night before he died. I thought about the similarities of dad's and grandma's journeys.
Dad mentioned seeing his mother. Grandma mentioned seeing her first husband. Both did what I call air picking. Both possibly symptoms of the death of the brain, but, I'd rather think that they are working towards and meeting with those that have passed before them. I know, deep in my heart, that our souls are powerful and that they must continue on past the life our bodies can hold. This mysterious transition from life into what's next is fascinating and frightening at the same time.
As Grandma slept, I looked around her small room. In my lifetime, I'd seen Grandma move from a house, to a condo, to a small apartment, and finally to one small room barely big enough for a twin bed, chair, and television. Every move meant that she needed less stuff. Bit by bit it was sent away, given away, donated, sold, or tossed. Her life had become smaller and only the valuable parts remained. Family. Memories. Pictures.
It had come down to the end of her life and what mattered most was not what she owned, but who she knew and who she loved. The precious trappings of life that she had left were so dear. Pictures of her family, her boys, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren were the most prized. She commented to my mom at one point how her family was smiling down on her, surrounding her.
Every time I've been with someone who is dying, I am reminded of what we take with us and what we leave behind. I suppose it's easy to get caught up in the pursuit of stuff and more stuff and more stuff and greater and more expensive things. But, if you have a moment, think about what you'd like to be surrounded by when you die.
Love is really all there is. To cultivate that and the experiences of life, forming memories is really all we have.
Taking a little time to play with words, to play with food, and just to play!