Thursday, December 18, 2014

A kind of triumph

Yesterday was a little bleak, overcast and cold, but that's just December, isn't it? With the light diffused and glowing, or thin and pointed, cutting through too much dark.

Kevin's grandmother died on Sunday. She was 93. At Thanksgiving dinner she had told my father she was ready to move on. And she did. Last Thursday she fell and broke her hip, as old women do, and then I guess she thought it was the perfect out. We went to see her a couple days after the fall, when they had gotten her settled and comfortable at home, on hospice. We woke her up. Here, we told her, here are the kids come to see you! And she raised her head. And, oh!, she said. And she looked at them like they were puppies, and cooed. She smiled with them and let us hold her hand for a few moments. Then she let her head fall back onto her pillow again and fell asleep.

That was the last time.




Helene. Helene Romaine. She lived close by, and we saw her often. Eden talked worlds with her, in a jibberish they both seemed to understand. Cedar would lead her to the dinner table by the hand, hug and kiss her hello, and goodbye. The last long conversation she and I had was spent laughing mostly. She would tell me something, some story. And I would listen. And then she would stop, the path of thought gone, and start cracking up that she couldn't finish. She thought this last stage of aging was awful but hilarious. Humbling. And she moved through it with a good-humored grace that I hadn't expected. We used to have these deep conversations that would leave me grounded and lightened. Inspired. But, also, maybe all too serious. She hadn't laughed much until these last couple years. Not with me. So her comedic descent, from my experience, felt like a kind of triumph.

I told Kevin it was ironic, right? That she died so soon after I wrote about how normal life felt, how untouched by loss. And yet maybe she was right to do it. She's been done for a while. And she was an opportunist, and, through most her life, staunchly independent. So it is her death, and it is sad, but it's also her release, and good. Besides, December deaths are becoming another kind of normal around here. We're used to it. All that light, remember? Thrumming through the dark.

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