Monday, June 2, 2014

On death and dying...

My friend was a very private person. When she knew that she was dying, she began to matter of factly set her affairs in order. She sold a rental property to a man that she had come to admire, talking to Tim as he walked briskly up and down the street tending to his own rental properties. She sold her house at an extremely low price, a gift almost, despite the protestations from both Tim and I. She assured us that she had no need of the money and that in the end, it was ridiculous to consider such things. She was dying after all. She would not live long enough to spend the money.

But, the property did come with one 'requirement': To pay it forward.

We did come up with a plan to do just that. Women's issues, environmental issues, and education was very close to her heart, and we have plans.

We bought that house, and as big a blessing as it was to us, she assured us that it was a blessing to her as well. She went forthrightly about her business of disassembling her life, rehoming a dog with issues to the dog whisperer who had wrought the magic touch that transformed him into a good dog. A ceremony in church was held to honor that 'adoption'. Everyone there knew that it was as much about the woman as it was her dog. She was dying. She knew it. We knew it. This was the public admission of it.

Yesterday, we were up and down the street. That house bought from our friend is being gutted and rewired and put back together again. We have two tenants that switched apartments in another building, and we were taking care of small projects there. We were pulling a power washer up the street and talked to a another friend who happened to need a power washer. We made plans to lend her ours. The day unfolded in small chores, with plants to be planted and weeds to be whacked.

In the middle of that sweaty busy-ness, I saw a lady I'd met only a couple of times before. I had a bad feeling when she stopped. "Is it Joan?" I asked. And she smiled. Yes. But she assured me that it had been wonderful, that Joan had spent the day quietly, but that her eyes continually popped open and she would exclaim, "OH!!!" in a delighted voice. No more than that. But the expression on her face, the joy and delight! Those delighted discoveries lasted all day. The three people closest to her remained at her side for the weekend. Finally, they left to shower. Within minutes, alone, she passed quickly, in a business like manner. She died as she lived, guarding her privacy.

I am glad that my friend had such a beautiful passing. I am glad that her day was joyful. I am glad that she lived by her own rules up until the very last breath.

Godspeed, my friend.

1 comment:

jeanie said...

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there - I do not sleep.
I am the thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints in snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
As you awake with morning's hush
I am the swift-up-flinging rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there - I did not die.

Your friend had a wonderful life - and what a wonderful passing, giving such blessings and smiles.