Monday, November 10, 2014

One Foot on Either Side of the Threshold of Life

As my friend Maggie was passing away we all took turns sitting vigil by her bedside.  It took her about three or four days to die.  As the time drew nearer she experienced increased lapses of consciousness.  I tended to take the night shifts.  I'd get off work, go home, change clothes, have a meal, and then head on over to her house.  I relieved the evening friend somewhere around 10:00 and sat with her until 2:00.  That's when her neighbor and long term friend Harold would take over.  

On the night she actually died, the most profound thing happened.  As I came to be with her and sat by her side, she greeted me with such warm love in her eyes and patted my hand, and said, "Thank you darling so much for coming to be with me."  Then, tiring easily, she slipped away into a little time of sleep.  

A moment or two later she rose up with a start, reaching her arms out in front of her and called out, "Arthur! Grandmama!  It's so wonderful to see you."  Her husband had died before her, and so of course, had her grandmother.  But there they were, in the room with us, and she was reaching out to them.  Then she'd lapse with exhaustion and sink back down on the mattress and drift to sleep again.  A minute later she would wake up, pat my hand and say, "Oh darling, I'm so glad you're here.  Thank you so much for coming to be with me."

Like seaweed on an underwater rock, she flowed from one state of reality back into the other, again and again as the hours went by, deep into the night.  Then Harold took over and an hour or two later,  she died.  I felt like I had been to a going away party and a welcome home party all in the same night.  It was a wonderful experience and I'll never forget it.  

A few years back our friend Ralph passed away.  On his last day, surrounded by his loved ones, Ralph pointed with his finger to our friend Dave, and then to our friend Mark, and then to his darling wife Aleta.  Then looking each of them in the eyes by turn, he pointed between them, and beyond them, and around them, to all the others who were there, not in body but in spirit.  They were there to greet him as he made ready to join them going home.  

We are not alone.  The world of spirit is rich and all around us all the time.  And as we get close to making our own transition, the barriers break down and the wall between life and death becomes very thin.  I consider these two incidents to be very valuable in my life.  When times get tough, when I'm in a low spot, I try to remember these lessons.  This lets me realize that help is all around and love is everywhere all the time.  May we all move with gratitude as we round the bend into the fullness of this season.  

© Josephine Laing, 2014

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