My mother died late in the evening. I arrived mid-afternoon; Jimmy and Liz didn't get there until about 10:30 or so, and she died about an hour later, with us holding her hands and talking quietly to her, remembering childhood things, her favorite places, fun memories. It was very peaceful, very gentle: one wavering breath more and then nothing. Just silence.
We'd known it was coming, but it was still hard to lose her. Her body just plain wore out. She knew we were there, though, and I'd talked with her a bit every night that last week.
It's hard to think that she's been gone that long: that's going from a freshman to a senior in high school or college, going from a twinkle in someone's eye to a pre-schooler.
Time goes on despite our losses, despite the holes in our lives that death leaves.
"The deep pain that is felt at the death of every friendly soul arises from the feeling that there is in every individual something which is inexpressible, peculiar to him alone, and is, therefore, absolutely and irretrievably lost." ~Arthur Schopenhauer
Since my mother died, two of her six siblings also have joined her and my father, who died 10 years ago this December, but who I miss still every day, especially when I see an older man with fine, white hair blowing a bit in the wind, or one who walks with a bit of a hitch in his git-along.
They both are with me not only because of the genetic heritage, but in Daddy's fishing tackle box that I have recently raided for bits to become part of a collage necklace I'm making, in the handwritten recipes from Mother that she gave me when I got married so many years ago, in the pictures that smile at me every morning from the dining room buffet chest. They're with me when I sing little songs to our grandson -- my father had a song for every occasion, for every turn of a phrase. They're with me when I read a book or see a movie or television program that I know they would have enjoyed.
It's gone beyond raw, hurting grief into a soft place, a gentle, warm place that even now makes me feel loved by them every day. Doesn't mean I don't puddle up sometimes, unaccountably, unpredictably, when something zings a memory. But time and life have moved on, moved ahead, as it should.
"Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle
Everything I do is stitched with its color."
~W.S. Merwin, "Separation"