Friday, March 31, 2006

Endings and losses

Mother died Oct. 30, both my brother and me at her side, her breath slowing until there was one....and then one more....and then quiet. The passage was so peaceful. I was painting her a word picture of the cabin in Estes Park, with Daddy cooking breakfast and singing inside the house, and told her that all she had to do was open the door and walk out on the porch. She did. They're dancing in heaven.

Her little brother Tom died yesterday, March 30, when he fell off a ladder in Mississippi where he was leading a mission team. He must have had time only for an 'oh s**t' moment before he smashed into concrete. After two days of life support and the determination that he was brain dead -- my vibrant, larger-than-life, loving uncle -- his family stopped it and he died.

Tom came to us for Mother's memorial service on his way home from three weeks in Greece, and saw his sister looking at rest and without pain for the first time in years. We all cried. He spoke loving words at her service, leaking tears. He sang with me when I couldn't sing anymore for the tears, the "Hymn of Promise," at the service's end -- "In our end is our beginning..".

Oh, he will be eulogized in a grand and glorious way, for he lived a generous, big life. My cousin told me that she was not ready to lose him...I told her we never are. But for him to be ripped so abruptly and finally and violently from life is very hard to wrap my arms around, and I'm sure my cousins and aunt will reel from this for a long time. He was too young to die now, but he was doing what he loved doing, and in that there is a small measure of comfort.

As much as I miss my mother, I am comforted that she no longer suffers. And with Tom's death, I am very glad that I do not have to call her and tell her this sad news. Whatever remains of the spirit when the body passes was welcoming his in heaven; of that I am certain.

The heart has gone from the family with their passing, at least for me. There will not be another reunion, at least not with the four siblings that remain, and many of we cousins are so far removed from each other that we share nothing but a few memories. Tom was the leader at the one we had; singing, praying, bringing together. No one can fill those shoes.

I've had enough losses for one year, I think. There are holes in my heart that won't fill up. I am aware, so aware, that time is not my friend anymore in this life, and that each day is important, each moment should be held in awareness, each person I love needs to know. One thing we've done right is our move here: the past three years plus have been the happiest of my life, and I am so grateful for the love and joy that I receive each day, morning and night. I hope I spread a little of it here and there too.

Endings. Losses. I know there are new beginnings, but right now it's hard to see any.