It’s automagic

18 08 2008

Walking into a grocery store behind my dad not long ago, I remember laughing as he stepped on the rubber mat in front of the door and as it slid open he proclaimed with mock surprise, “It’s automagic!” From one space into the next – with nothing more than a foot fall – a door whooshes open and we’re in.  

Now here we are standing in front of another door with our full weight on the welcome mat and that door seems stuck.  This business of dying is quite tricky.  I’m getting familiar with the signs and sounds accompanying the process but it’s not over till it’s over.  I am still having a hard time realizing that it was exactly a week ago today that hospice came for the assessment interview and by this time I had meds in hand and he had oxygen.  Reading and re-reading the little blue book that tells me what this process looks like I find myself becoming impatient now because I’ve been living it for over a year.  So many times in my drive back to Michigan I’ve spent that travel time thinking of what this reality would be like.   Now I’m here and I’m ready for the next thing.  Seriously.

You’d think I had enough experience with process that I’d learned a thing or two – but apparently not. When my young family first left for Spain in 1983 there were lots of things involved in the passage.  Months of sorting, buying, wondering what we’d need there, what I should take from here – the babies were small, one just barely two years old and the other 7 months…I kept trying to imagine my life here transported to a country I knew relatively little about and imagine myself living there.  Packing up all our belongings and learning my way around phone conversations that dealt with shipping methods, customs papers, inventories, etc.  But that wasn’t the only thing I had to do to get us moved from one place to the other.

There were the dreaded good-byes.  At that point, I knew these separations could mean four years until my parents saw their grandkids again.  It was breaking my heart.  All the little things that they wouldn’t be a part of and would only live through letters…again this was pre-technology iChat, email, skype, and other instant goodies.  Farewell gatherings were exhausting as I felt like I had already stepped through the door but I didn’t fit with all the people hanging on to my ankles holding me back.  I barely had any more tears left because in my mind – I’d moved on and was living with an adreline rush of anticipation to get on to the next thing so I could get my family settled.

Looking back on all of that now – I’d say it took nothing short of a year or two really before things felt normal. What I thought it was going to be and what it turned out to be were two very different thing. It wasn’t just about getting across the Atlantic Ocean part done – it was the journey of doing it all- that made it what it was.  

So I am in this waiting space and I don’t like it much.  I’m projecting ahead and trying to be prepared – wondering how long I’ll be in this spot that seems like the pneumatics on the door quit working.  Will it be in a space when no one else in the room?  Will we all be there?  Will there be words or just mumblings from a hallucination?  Will it be sacred or ordinary?  The threshold is close enough to touch but the door won’t open.  There is no way of knowing what moment in time that is reserved for Billy’s foot fall to be the final “open sesame” – but I know that there are things for me to learn while we wait.

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5 responses

18 08 2008
Lynn,night watchman

He slept peacefully all night.

18 08 2008
Amy Jo

I understand your feelings 100%. Can’t tell you how many tears I cried the last two weeks when things really started to move that direction. Now, life here has taken center stage – getting the kids transitioned back to daycare/school, buying school supplies for Kellen and me, trying to get my classroom organized and decorated. I feel guilty for thinking of other things at times, but I have made peace with the path that is being travelled. Now, I’m just ready to celebrate ggpa’s passage into a world much better than life on earth!

19 08 2008
Neenah

Jeremy said it really well: ” What a beautiful piece of heartache this has all been.”

20 08 2008
John P. Cummer

Wendy: As one of those who made last Friday so hectic for you (I counted 13), let me say I’m sorry for the intrusion. I pray for peace for you – and freedom from well-meant but intruding visitors. It’s been an emotional time for me, saying goodbye to Nova and to Bill, but nothing like what you are going through.

It may not be long before I can go – and I’ll sure be listening for that whistle!

Uncle John

20 08 2008
1eyedmonkee

Uncle John – it was so special to my mom that you were able and willing to make the trip. Your plans were in place long before all this started to turn South! Mom and I were talking last night about how good Nova looked…it’s no fair!! We are hear waiting and waiting…watching and waiting. W

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