Nothing much has changed with her since that visit. She has been bedridden for much of the past year and has seemed to continue to move slowly toward that inevitable moment of final departure. But she has hung on tenaciously. She is still about a 75 pound weakling. She is still eating a little and taking water, getting a little weaker maybe, and her mind is less sharp. But she has maintained for several months after we all thought she perhaps had a couple weeks left to go. Somehow her vitals are all good. As I’ve often said she is one tough woman. Still, when I look at recent photographs of her compared to even a year ago it is clear that she is winding down her time in this realm. The question is when and of course none of us can know.
The day before yesterday she talked to my sister about funeral arrangements. Coleen assured her that everything was all set for that and that she didn’t have to worry about it. Mom had even arranged much of it years ago. She also assured my mother that all of her kids would be okay. Several of us have had talks with her about end-of-life issues. It’s not something we’ve avoided.
But the other thing she said–the significant thing, especially for a woman of such strong Catholic faith–was that she is ready to meet her Lord. I have felt for a while that she was waiting for something, that there was some kind of unfinished business that she had to attend to before she could go. I didn’t know what it was, but I felt that the things my sister has been getting from taking care of her and the way they have gotten closer in that time may have had something to do with it. Sometimes death and dying entering into our lives gives greater focus and understanding to our living.
Whatever it was (if indeed there was anything) she has now put it out there that she is ready to go. Prior to this the tough lady was fighting all the way. If she’s really at that place of peace and ready to meet her maker then I can’t imagine that she is going to hang on for months more, or probably even weeks. It wouldn’t surprise me if it were down to days because her words clearly acknowledged that she is ready and generally when people get to that point they are indeed ready. Then again she continues to surprise us. I don’t know that I’m ready for her to go yet, but I do know that there is pretty much no quality of life left for her at this point. I also know that no matter how long she lasts or how much preparation we have the moment when she goes will still be difficult. Our sadness at that moment will be her everlasting moment of peace and her pain and confusion will finally be gone. I only hope that if there is a God to greet her that he is ready to dance.