My thoughts have been dragged back to the fact that I have a disease which will probably kill me. A friend on an Advanced Breast Cancer forum died recently and this has given me pause for thought.
My best friend died 7 years ago of stomach cancer (liver mets) and I was with her right to the end as her family didn't seem to want to put that much effort in and her husband had left her a couple of years before for another woman. You know the type, everything seemed fine then he came home one evening, packed his bags, said he had met someone else and left... I was with her in the hospice, and when one of her sisters had left to go for a walk I told Hilary that she had succeeded in all the things that really mattered in life, and that when she was ready she should go. We would miss her, but this was about what she needed to do. I made sure that she had her favourite music playing all the time, and I was reading her a story when she slipped away. It was HER time.
Giving someone permission to go is so important as it allows a peaceful transition on all sides - from those who will be left behind and the person who is dying. As much as we would want to cling to someone we have to admit in the end that we must allow them to go. None of us can freeze frame a moment forever, except in our memory, but even there I don't think it is ever totally frozen as we remember a slightly different view each time we recall it. Just as we are not static in time, neither is our memory; we forget, and we remember. There is a theory that younger people may be able to think more quickly, but the older person has the greater mental power that is basically wisdom. Wisdom is something that can't be taught, only something that can be learned. Wisdom is the memory of a life time, and the things that have made us the person that we have become over time. For me wisdom is also allowing people to go when they have to. My mother died suddenly when I was 29 and it took a while to realise that for her it was the perfect time. This didn't make it any easier at the time for me, but who are we to dictate that someone should hang on to life because we are selfish.
My mother's brother died in January in his 97th year. How can you regret his passing, other than on a personal level? Not many people came to his funeral as they had mostly passed years before, though I know that it was very difficult for his sister, who is now the last of the four siblings. She has lost the last person who remembers their childhood on a farm in the Cotswolds, of tearing around on ponies, the names of the family pets, the sounds of the house in which they grew up, and the voices that were once their entire existence. I have some recordings of my father's voice which can instantly take me back to the bungalow where I grew up, but it is still here within me, the rooms, the furniture, the old TV my parents has bought to watch the Queen's coronation on in 1953, years before I was born.
A person who has touched your heart never totally dies while you have one memory that can make you glad that you knew them. Parting is indeed such sweet sorrow, but memories are sweet joy. All that any of us can hope is that we will be allowed to go with grace and love, and that those receiving us will do so with joyfulness. PEACE.