Now this is not intended to be a maudlin piece. The title is more…a simple statement of fact. We went to a visitation earlier this evening for my oldest sister-in-law. She was 74. Kind of young by a lot of standards these days, but still very common. She lived a good long life, had seven kids, I don’t know how many grandkids and even great grandkids, and was married for more than 50 years. A reasonable length of life. Three score and ten plus four.
And she was very ready to go. She’d been battling several serious illnesses for years. Her husband, my brother, died about 2 1/2 years ago, and she made the best of things. But she was ready she said “to go be with him.” Now, honestly, I don’t know if she really will go be with him. I don’t know at all what happens after death. but religious folks will tell you that its all hunky-dorey in heaven after you die. And people believe it. Who am i to say any different? Like I said, I don’t know.
And actually, I’m kind of suspicious of anyone who says they do know, but…the idea brings great comfort to people who believe it, so, live and let live I say. Let them believe what they will. Me, I’m not so sure. It would be nice to be so sure, but I do not have that comfort. I’m not really sure what I believe, if anything, about after death. I’m not even sure it matters what I believe, or what any of us believe, because whatever happens, will happen whether we believe it or not.
What does matter, it THIS side of death. What do we believe on this side of death? Actually, that’s a much better title. I went back and changed the title from “Another Funeral”. You would not have known that if I did not tell you, and I think that is pertinent. Anyway…what does matter…is what we believe from THIS side of death. That matters very much. I’ve seen that for myself…many times. There is empirical evidence, that what we believe, DOES matter to our lives. And especially to how we face death. My sister-in-law was just the most recent example I have seen.
We went to visit her a couple weeks ago as she was preparing to leave the hospital and go home with hospice services. She was very clear and lucid, and we talked openly about it. She was ready to…let go…I say. I think that best describes it for me. She was ready to let go of her struggle to stay alive and ready to give up on trying to keepd her life above the illnesses she was fighting with. And most of all, she was ready to…go be with her husband of 50+ years.
She was smiling broadly the whole time we were there and talking with her. She was pleasant and cheerful and happy that she had made the decision. She was at peace with the world and with her life…and with her death. I was happy for her. And I’m still happy for her.
She had been a Registered Nurse in her adult life. Cared for many I’m sure who were nearing death. Not sure if that had anything to do with her outlook, but it always gave me a way to relate to her as she spent many of her working years as a nurse in nursing homes. We talked frequently over the years about the business. usually not about life and death matters. It was mostly about the day to day challenges we dealt with in the business. And our birthdays were a day and 11 years apart. Some say people with similar birth dates have things in common. Not sure what they were except the obvious birthdays, and oh, we did both have a variation of red hair, but I really don’t know a whole lot else.
Funny. I’ve thought alot recently about getting a chance to write a blog post again, and what I might write about. I always think its best when i just write what’s on my mind. But I thought about a lot of things I wanted to write about recently. A lot of different things even just today on the drive home. None of it was what’s written above. I actually don’t even remember all those things I thought about. And even as I was getting ready to sit down and write…I didn’t know what would come out. Now, I’ve written over 750 words about it, and i’m feeling like I should explain myself somehow. So that was it.
Tomorrow we go to the funeral. A couple of months ago we buried Cotton. Haven’t really been able to let go of him. He was a much bigger part of my life than Barb as he was around in my day to day a lot more. He was a different family link, and lived in town. We spent more time together over the years. He was another one who had made peace with his coming death. He wasn’t grinning like Barb, but maybe that was because he was leaving his wife of 40 years…behind him. he was not going to join his spouse like Barb was. But I don’t know that for sure. Only know that he was as ready as he ever would be to die.
It seems like there ought to be some conclusion I could draw from this writing…but I’m not sure what it would be. I suppose it has to do with the line where I got my title. That…it matters what we believe…on this side of death…