Saying Goodbye

I cannot believe how long it has been since my last post. Actually, I can believe it. I have been inundated with work, my children’s afterschool activities and life in general.

For most of the summer, I have enjoyed the highs of life: vacation, skydiving, rafting and spending time with family and friends. Autumn has not been so kind. I have been dealing with the lows in life: illness, death and other hardships of life.

My mother has been experiencing health issues, including a stint at the hospital. She is still dealing with her health issues. There are plenty of days that she lacks the energy and strength to manage through her days. I have been trying to make time to help her, but it feels like I don’t do enough.

Recently, I lost an important member of my world. I have spent many nights praying that my sister-in-life may find peace and comfort in her final days. It was breaking my heart to see her suffer the way she did. I felt so helpless not being able to do more for her to help ease her misery.

My visits with her were sporadic, but they lasted for hours. I would spend time with her revisiting past memories of special (and not so special) times we shared during her life. We spoke of her achievements and failings, her loves and losses, her dreams and regrets. I would often leave her feeling sad, yet fulfilled. I was sad because I was losing my friend, my mentor, my guardian angel. I felt fulfilled because hers, was a life well spent, as I was glad to be a part of her life.

She had many loves in her lifetime. Her love of knowledge and intellect seeped through her pores. Every conversation was stimulating and invigorating. She was the smartest person I knew. She was shrewd and sharp and she possessed a grand sense of humor. She never made you feel stupid, but you always walked away feeling smarter and enlightened.

She loved to travel. Her passports were filled with stamps of all of her journeys. In short, she bounded across Europe, the US and parts of Africa.

She loved food. She surrounded herself with food. Not just any kind of food, but really delicious, mouth watering plates of anything you could imagine. She was very adventurous with food and never shied away from trying anything new or anything exotic. She knew all the best places to eat, and surprisingly, they weren’t always 5-star Zagat rated establishments. She would sometimes have me meet her in questionable parts of our city, but the food was always simply heavenly.

She loved family. She would make it a point to always be around family. You could walk into the noisiest room of the house, which meant that the room was usually filled with kids running amok and adults chatting about anything and everything; and that is where you would find her, sitting amid the chaos at ear splitting decibels. Amazingly, she would sometimes be fast asleep. She would say that all of the noise was music to her ears and it made her feel calm and comfortable. She would say that she would get the best sleep when she was surround by children playing and her family enjoying conversation even though it was all going on in the same room.

As her condition deteriorated, I commanded the conversations. As I reflected on our experiences together, the good and the bad, I encountered a profound sadness that this would be the last experience that I would share with her. It broke my heart. I am glad that we did share this time together as we did. I just wish we were able to share more time together. I was able to say everything that I felt that I needed to say. Yet, I miss the sound of her voice.

The day I received the call that she died, I shed very few tears. During my hour-long commute to visit with her, I was mentally preparing myself for the inevitable. I was preparing myself for the final goodbye.

The day of her burial, was a dreary rainy day. Everyone was obviously somber, but at peace because her suffering was over. I delivered her eulogy and remained stoic and did not cry. I bid her a final farewell as I lay a single white rose on her casket. Some tears fell as I walked back to the car. But it wasn’t the flood of tears that still had yet to come.

At the end of the evening, when we got home, I felt the swell of emotion that I was expecting, but I was too tired and too drained. I drifted off to sleep listening to the patter of raindrops against my window.

The next morning, I prepared myself for work, still feeling the swell of emotion bubbling. I made it out of the house and into my car before I allowed myself to cry. My pain was private and my pain was mine. I did not want to share the burden of my pain. I needed to weep alone. The rain had stopped, but thick gray clouds were swirling about overhead. I allowed myself to feel all the pain of my loss. I cried so very hard and let my emotions rule for a while. I pulled over off the highway near an open field. I sat that there for what seemed like an eternity, while I listened to the ticking of the four way hazard flashers of my car. As I started to calm down and regain a steady breath, I looked to the skies and said her name. I noticed that the clouds were clearing away. Rays of sunlight were peeking through the clouds and the gray thick clouds were swirling away, revealing white puffy clouds and patches of blue sky. As I sat there watching the birth of a beautiful day unfold before me, I felt a peace overtaking my heart. I felt like she was telling me, “You had your day of sorrow and the skies cried along with you on the day you buried me. But today is a new day. I am taking away the gray clouds and the sadness in your heart. Here is the sun, the blue sky and white puffy clouds. It is going to be a beautiful new day. This is my gift to you. Enjoy it.” That is what she would have wanted.

I felt a sad smile creep from the corners of my mouth and I felt my heart filled with warmth. Life does do on.

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