I don’t begin to make a pretense of collective certainty. I awoke to, of all things, a woodpecker banging away at some important find near the skylight of my upstairs bathroom. I resisted my early morning hour’s impulse to lay waste to the annoying intruder. Instead, I lay there sorting out dreams, recollections and reality.
She was there, in agonizing decline, then she was gone in a zippered cocoon of safety from the cold morning winds. They were so dutifully careful to step through whatever mental minefield they might encounter while collecting their morning acquisition. I made it easy. I pointed the way. I acted relaxed, while my wife sought refuge in a back bedroom with the care giver sobbing.
They stripped the bed and lifted the frail little remains into a bag that has provided a shield from the present….the living. They, the funeral home retrievers, left the foster home facility with all due dispatch and reverence and my dear Auntie.
In the hours afterwards, I tried to sleep. Phone calls from the funeral home, family, friends and the intrusive pecking of the woodpecker have me still sleep deprived some 15+ hours after her passing. I will sleep tonight.
I have dreamt it and come out of the ‘awake’ dream state to realize she is in deed gone. The last 20 months have ended…the last intense 30 days of ‘dying’ has ended. I miss her.
Death with Dignity…usually a prelude to self imposed suicide…has a different meaning to me. She died with grace and dignity while grinding out thousands of gasping breaths. She followed that seismic ordeal with the most gentle, devolving dance into life’s abandonment imaginable. Such a little powerhouse she was that let go in the most gentle exhaltations.
I do believe, as cheesy and fanciful as it sounds, that that little ‘guardian angel’ did not so much prevent her downfall, as guide her into a gentle journey toward those that awaited her gentle passage.
At least the woodpecker is still at night.
Seriously…Thank You All!!! for the words of support, love, comfort and praise. Bless You all for the warmth and encouragement you have given me, us…my sweet Tillie.