Grief and aging both made me more aware of all the things we eventually give up in a life. But while I found this wrenchingly difficult, it was also transformative. For after all, what do we really “own?” All of life is a gift – every moment, every relationship, the food we put in our mouths, the small joys of a garden in bloom or a silent snowfall, snuggles with a grandchild or a best friend. But how often we forget that we are blessed.
The following is a journal entry made one morning as a dear friend lay dying.
At the lake, the air is cool, just 50 degrees. Wind busies the water under a gray sky. A goose family with 3 chicks bustles through small waves. I sit on the rocky ledge and watch them, thinking about endings, and leaving, and my dying friend Janna. She is in her last hours, trying to tear away, but also reluctant to let go.
The dog follows a scent trail; sniffs out something interesting that turns out to be a pile of goose feathers, a dismembered leg with a rubbery yellow foot.
So many goodbyes. How does anyone – any person, or even any goose – ever manage this impossible thing – the Great and Final Tearing Away?
How do we let ourselves be torn open, dizzily love the so-many small things of a life, and face full-forward into that final dark blink? How do we stand solid in the middle, not certain which one is closer – another everyday, or the End?