What We Remember

March 14, 2017

One of our neighbors passed away this week. She wasn’t very old, only in her 70’s, although she did have some kind of health issue. But that wasn’t what she died from; her passing was completely unexpected. She had been fine, her husband told me. They were going to attend a grandson’s musical performance and while her husband parked the car she entered the auditorium, smiled at her son, gave him a hug and then collapsed. Her heart stopped a couple of times in the next few hours and she was resuscitated each time, and put on a breathing apparatus. But the damage was done to her brain and her organs began to fail, and with her family around her they took her off of life support and she passed quickly and quietly.

I murmured sympathetically when our neighbor called to tell me the news. I let him tell me, with all the detail he needed to share, hoping it was helpful to let him just talk for as long as he needed to. I know how difficult it is to make that decision, to remove life support from a loved one and then wait for the inevitable. It’s a blessing when it is quick, but even knowing what’s coming doesn’t make it any easier when it does. And my mother, the tough old broad that she was, tortured me a bit.

She wasn’t going anywhere until she was good and ready, so I had the opportunity to say what seemed like a very long goodbye to someone I wasn’t sure could hear me. They told me she wasn’t in any pain, but it didn’t sound that way. Congestive heart failure isn’t pretty to listen to. At the very end, right before she died her eyes opened and she looked at me with such clarity that I was sure my goodbye had been heard. And I was glad for the opportunity to say it. That’s what I will remember.

Our neighbor was a sweet woman. She gave us a lovely housewarming gift of placemats and napkins. Christmas meant a dish of rice pudding and a holiday card. Only once was there any animosity. The tree between our houses, a magnificent copper beech, was dropping branches and shading their roof. We’d agreed to trimming but weren’t happy with the company they chose after the company we’d agreed to put them off for too long. After a dry summer we were concerned about the health of the tree and whether it could withstand the work. We called an arborist for a second opinion, and when our neighbor saw a different company’s truck she came over and was very upset. I explained that the work was still being done, and that we just wanted to know if we needed to water the tree beforehand, but she was not having any of it and left in a huff. But she later returned and said she didn’t want any bad blood between neighbors, and after her apology I gave her a hug. She told me she loved hugs.

I think that’s what I’m choosing to remember most about her, that she loved hugs.

Deborah

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle March 14, 2017 at 6:25 pm

sorry to hear of your loss – as you state choosing to remember the good things keeps the warm memories alive…

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Octavia March 14, 2017 at 7:24 pm

Oh my stars. This is beautiful…. What a tribute to her. And to You.

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Cousin Jane March 14, 2017 at 7:35 pm

Sweet!

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