Thursday, July 30, 2009

"Gone from our sight"

Betty passed away peacefully yesterday afternoon. She lived a long and rewarding life, a life of adventure for her, and one of kindness and generosity toward everyone she met.

She had a profound influence on a rippling circle of individuals, most lately of course, the professionals who cared for her as her life waned away, but more inclusively, her family, and the friends who came to visit her in the last few weeks.

As we make "the arrangements", we come to realize that many of those she touched, perhaps all of them who are still alive themselves, have come to visit her and pay their respects for her life and her inspiration. Oh, there have been many tears, to be sure, but there has been far more joy and sense of honor just to know her.

She literally saved my life -- more than once -- and I am eternally grateful to her.

As far as we could tell, she went gently into that "other place" which she had visited before but where she had never been able to stay. We believe that her spirit left her body some time before her body shut down completely, but just when she completed her journey we can't know. She was at peace, though, when the end finally came. The serenity on her face and the easy appearance of her body as she lay in bed while we put up with all the bustling to and fro of the various people who came to certify and to pronounce and to call various others and to pray and to take her body away to the mortuary was a blessing; she was so beautiful through it all.

The friend who called yesterday called again about ten minutes after Betty died. His name appeared on the screen as the phone rang. I answered the phone, "So you know do you?" He said, "I knew yesterday." I told him that Betty had breathed her last just a few minutes before, and here he was calling... He said, "I drove by your house a few minutes ago, but something told me not to stop. I sensed I should go home and call instead." Yes, it was the right thing to do, and we talked for a while, remembering a mutual friend who had been through somewhat the same process of dying several years ago. I said, "You're still welcome to come over. Would it help you to see her one last time?" He said, "I'll be over, but first I'm going to get you all some burgers at the [Burger joint name redacted] and make sure you get some food in you." I thought OMG.

So we went through a whole raft of processes and procedures ending with our waiting with the priest for the nurse who would "pronounce" the death, when my friend arrived knocking on the door, and sure enough he'd brought big sacks of fresh-cooked hamburgers -- which smell wonderful -- and he and the priest, and we and Betty's granddaughter chat about what a wonderful person Betty had been, how much she'd touched our lives, etc, etc, and my friend went over to Betty, who was still very serene on her bed, and he gently took her hand, kissed it and stroked her head and turned away, tears streaming down his cheeks, and just whispered "Thank you." He left not long afterwards, reminding us that we'd better have those hamburgers, and we said we would.

And about an hour later, when all the hub bub was done, we did; we had a wonderful little wake, Betty's granddaughter and us, as we talked about Betty's life, listening to music she liked to hear, and making preps for the next step.

At this point, I don't think there's going to be a funeral as such. Betty's body will be cremated, and her ashes will be split. Her spirit will be honored, and her memory will be secured. I suspect a number of people will write about her -- I couldn't possibly be the only one who does so! Those words will be assembled and distributed to those whose lives she touched so profoundly.

Rest in peace, Betty. You may be gone from our sight, but you will always be in our hearts. It was a privilege just to know you.


  1. And, it would appear that it was a privilege for her to know you, as well. This love was mutual.

    I'm sorry for your loss, Ché. May the warmth of her memory find a niche in your heart and travel with you forever.

  2. Thanks again.

    We're "working through the grief" here; very interesting, very odd how and when the loss comes upon me, almost, but not quite at random.

    No, something will trigger a memory of Betty, and I just lose any sense of composure. Have to let it out. But then there will be another memory of complete joy.

    They say this is how grief works, and I guess they're right.

  3. I'm sorry, Ché. It's a part of life, but it is some of the worst part of life. You sure seem to make the best of things, though. From reading your thoughtful and varied posts, I think Betty was blessed to have had you in her life.