I cannot end the year on a sad note. Know that sadness does not hang over our house as we end the year celebrating my mother's life. We had a most lovely service for my mother on Saturday. I spent 2 days compiling the music, framing photos and designing and printing the program, while my husband worked on the eulogy. We wanted a very personal service that reflected my mother and the family she created. On Wednesday she will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery - buried among heroes, soldiers and their spouses, right there near Bobby and John F. Kennedy - 2 men she adored. One of our family memories was seeing Bobby, a few of his children and Caroline Kennedy at the local movie theater after JFK died. Two families doing family things.
The funeral director was quite impressed that we had done so much, down to the CDs of music. He obviously didn't know June Jackson's daughters! I think she was my first teacher of the saying, "God is in the details." There was no way I was going to let tradition and grief dictate how my mother was remembered. She taught us style, so style it was.
From reading your comments and all the personal emails, I know that so many of you have been through the very same thing - losing your mother, or someone equally loved. I know death happens every day, every where and not always with warning and never when you are ready. I also now know that not everyone talks about it. A whole series of events is summed up in the phrase "My mother died." We relate the birth of a baby in minute detail, often accompanied by photographs or film, from the first twinge of a contraction to the first cry and breath of air, the pink rosebud mouth and ten tiny fingers and toes. Yet we keep secret or speak in hushed tones about the final days, the mounting sadness, the last breath and goodbye.
My sister and I searched the internet for answers, signs, guidance and advice on how to walk these final steps with her, how to understand what was happening. There was some help out there and Capital Hospice proved to be most comforting and informative. Yet just as each individual is different, so is their death. Babies may pick their time to arrive, but once they set the wheels in motion, for most, it's pretty standard. Not so for the dying.
As I have said before, this blog has become my journal. I write it for me. If you choose to read it, so be it. It is in my nature to share what I know. It's how I make sense of things and if you are like me, then you too want to know. We're all going to face it someday, so perhaps some word I say, some thoughts I share will be of help to you. I am going to tell you about the pain and beauty of dying, the things we did for her and the things we did for us. The hard part and the beautiful. It is a joyeous story, yet there will be tears along the way. Too much to tell in one sitting. I'll be back.