Tag Archive | loss

One Last Moment

She’s gone.

He knows. No breath. No movement.

He’d lifted her from her chair to the floor when he’d found her, placing the blanket beside her that had covered her as she’d slept. When he’d set her down, he’d heard the huff of her final exhale leave her body.

He feels himself slip away from this world and enter a place he’s never been before.  He sways as he looks down on her. Her head is turned to one side. Her thinning brown hair is pressed against the side of her still beautiful face. Dressed in one of his t-shirts, her legs are bent in the same position they were when she’d fallen asleep the evening before.

Maybe she’s just- and he pushes his hands against her shoulder.

No movement.

He runs his rough fingers through his graying hair and looks about the darkened room. Everyone’s coming, he says out loud. But no one can hear him.

His daughters – their daughters – come through the front door and enter the room. Cold air follows them and sunlight spills in, but disappears quickly when the door closes. There is wailing and shuddering, and they take turns huddling over her.  They speak to her in shrill cries. I love you, Mommy, they say.

But she does not reply.

One daughter shakily pulls out lip balm.  She trembles as she smears the lotion across her mother’s lips.

A car arrives outside and he tells his daughter’s it’s time.  They stumble about the room silently, wiping the tears from their chins.

The strangers are ready to take her, so he moves away from his wife.

Wait – he whispers to them.  They step back respectfully.

He kneels down beside her again and covers her bare legs with the blanket.  As he leans in close to her face, he is once again alone with her.  He hears nothing except the beating of his own heart.  Betty, he whispers, stroking the hair away from her peaceful face.  She’s the fifteen year old girl he’d met when he was just seventeen…When she became a woman, he became a man…When she became a mother, he became a father…

When her illness seemed to steal everything from her – her ability to walk, to feed, to bathe herself – there was a constant between them: the truest love they’d each ever known.

And while he knew this moment would come, where she would leave this world, he is not ready to let her go.  He feels a panic arise in his chest.

Betty, he whispers again, placing his hand on her cold cheek.  He finds her left hand and lifts it close to him. He purses his lips, not wanting to do this, not ready to do this.  He grips the small gold wedding band from her finger, twisting it slowly as it makes its way off and into his calloused hand.  He places her hand gently at her side and stands up quickly.

It’s done, he thinks. He gives the strangers a nod, and they move in towards her.

His daughter’s, their heads down, make their way outside. Suddenly, as his girls disappear outside and out of his sight, he stops.  He opens up his fist and looks thoughtfully at the ring in his palm. Slowly, he lifts it and slides it over his pinky finger.

Knowing he cannot turn back, he walks towards the cold air coming through the wide open door, and he heads out into the sunlight.

Mom and Dad. They would’ve been together for almost 40 years now. Mom lost her battle with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) seven years ago at the age of 46. …Thank you for reading…

The Girl In the Picture

This photograph I find in my scattered mess of pictures causes a quiet gasp to escape me.

I have not seen this one in many years.

I don’t often physically hold photos in my hand anymore.  The photos in my home are encased in a frame or in an album that’s rarely opened. Some stay in a pile because there is no other place for them.

Each photo pulls on a different heart string.  Some make us laugh, some make us cry.  And some just make us realize how fleeting this life is.

But every photo has something in common.  Each one is a snapshot of a split second that has been captured forever.

This photo I’ve found today stands out from the rest in my pile.  It’s crinkly and peeling in places. I run my finger across the image, as though touching it will pull it from the thin paper and bring it to life.

There’s a little girl in the picture whom I recognize. She’s about ten years old here, a beaming smile across her genuinely happy looking face. Her head is leaning to the side, a gesture of her innocent nature. She is holding a baby bird in her cupped hands. It’s covered in a downy fur, its neck outstretched and its mouth wide open for food.

I remember this little girl well now. As she grew older, all the things that mattered to her the most became less and less important. They took a backseat to life, to the chaos around her, to all the things that were slowly chipping away at her childlike innocence and goodness.

Fear began to replace anticipation. Doubt began to replace hope. Tears began to replace laughter. Seriousness began to replace lightheartedness.

Darkness replaced light.

I hold the picture, feeling sad for the girl who lost her way in a world that did not quite turn out the way she thought it would.

I give her one last look – her easy eyes, her sun-kissed skin, the young bird she likely watched fly free from her hands – and I tuck the photo deep into the pile that has become a reminder of things passed.

A feeling of determination stirs inside me, and I decide then that I need to find my way back to that little girl, who is now surely a woman.

And that woman is me.

Although not always a simple journey, you too can discover that you still are the same person you once were,

no matter all you’ve gone through.

The child in all of us still exists.

~ Jackie