There was a phone call from the day before about a woman on the verge of losing her husband. She is a kind woman that lived a full life, a mother, a wife, and she is also a friend. I learned about this while on a shift at work. Although the hours were long and shift was busy, as asked, I sat down to write a few words to my friend to help her in this transition.
I wrote about life and the understanding of death. I wrote about the comforts of the soul and how since energy can neither be created nor destroyed —life is energy; therefore life can never be destroyed and essentially, we go on forever so long as we believe.
I wrote to my friend about her beliefs and understanding of God. And in an effort comfort and care, I sent all that I could compose in my message to help her though this time.
I typed this message to my friend and sent it out. I exhaled and sipped from my cup of coffee, and no sooner did I finish this, my phone rang.
“Is this Ben Kimmel,” asked the voice over the phone.
These calls were regular to me. I knew it was from a Florida number so it could have been any of the following: It could have been a call from an elder care attorney, or the assisted living home. It could have been a call from a nurse at the hospital, a doctor, or another phone call from someone from the state agency with news and either way, whomever it was, they always lead in with the same question.
“Are you the son of Alice Kimmel?”
My eyes rolled with a, “What happened now?” thought in my head. I wondered what it was because in my last conversation with a nurse, it was explained, “Your Mother is not being cooperative.”
It could have been anything from another infection to another fall or complaint. And I was thinking to myself, “Okay, what it is this time?”
I had no idea this would be the last phone call I received like this one. Here it was; I was trying to write my thoughts on life and death, God, the way things work, and how to comfort someone in a loss like this. I just finished explaining what life and death is to a friend. I had no idea that I would have to take my own advice.
I suppose that intellectually, I knew this time would come. Intellectually, I understood that life happens to everyone.
We are born at dawn, we live through noon, and next, we live through the evenings of our life until at last, we sleep. This is the way I breakdown life. Emotionally though, I’m still a son. Emotionally, I’m still a boy that misses his Mom. And emotionally, I am still someone who mourns, struggles, and feels.
In the interim between phone calls and plans, I was unsure what I would see, what you would look like, how this would take place, and how I would respond. Of course, the last version of you was not the one I want to remember. I would also like to take the last few conversations off my list of memories too.
It was strange though to think you were on your way. It was surreal to think this would be the last time I flew down to see you and to realize that this was your last day with us.
You once told me dying is part of living. I suppose this is true. Dying is part of living. Dying is also the ultimate lesson. Dying is what awakens us to a different sense of life. Dying helps put living into perspective.
When you passed, I realized the missed opportunities. When you passed, of course, I had the regrets and wished I was showed more patience. I wished we talked more about life and less about doctor visits and pain. I wished our last few visits were less complicated by medication and the tension of the times was easier; however, in this lesson of life, I go back to another saying of yours, which you said often, but I never really listened.
“Don’t sweat the small stuff!”
This is true because when I seat over the small stuff, I tend to miss the big picture.
I get that now.
I understand that which is of flesh is of flesh and that which is of spirit is spirit. I understand that you are of the spirit now and there is no more pain. There is no more need to adjust medication (or ask for more) and that where you live now is more unimaginable than anyplace my thoughts can conceive.
I believe this.
I used to see sings from you . . .
And I haven’t seen any in a while but perhaps I need to look a bit more carefully because the signs you send are probably hidden in plain sight.
I prefer to think of you now at home, maybe in some retirement condo like you and Pop always imagined. There are palm trees outside and the Florida scenery surrounding your place of residence. I envision you and The Old Man coming in, dressed in similar outfits of white and passing through a sliding glass door, which faces the gold course with green grass, sweeping hills, a few sand traps and holes with flags in them. You are happy here and home. You are both together again and living the life you dreamed of when you are both alive.
When I spoke at your memorial service, I discussed the last version of you. I think of this. I think of your head hunched forward and your eyes half-closed. You were slow, older, and uncomfortable. I envisioned you sitting in your chair, aged beyond repair, and in a dark room, —and then suddenly a light came on. Slowly, your head began to lift. The Pain relieved and your eyes opened and became clear. Your face lost the signs of age, your smile returned, and as you stood —you were no longer wearing the hospital gown and bracelet around your wrist. Instead, you were in a dress, looking beautiful, and amazed to see The Old Man approaching you in a fine suit, smiling, and preparing to dance.
I think of your reunion with The Old Man like this because the one thing I remember most is that you missed dancing. You told me that you missed dancing with Pop—well Mom, you can dance all you want now.
But when you can, please come down and see us for a visit. The world we live in just hasn’t been the same since you left