I believe that one woman who meant a great deal to me had a similar awareness. I will eternally respect her awareness, and I am angry at my own ignorance. I can regret and blame myself for not being more available to her in this life, or for not being aware, but that is unfair to her and her decisions. But I miss her. She demonstrated for me true kindness, forgiveness, generosity, frustration, love. Through her life, she allowed me to see what it meant to be a real, loving, hurting human being. She had incredible strength and determination and drive. And although her aggression was gentle, she could command a room. Or, she could disappear into the background if that was her choice.
I really miss her.
When I would visit, she would tell me stories. All kinds of stories. Stories from the Depression. Stories about World War II. Stories about her mother. Stories about her cousins. Stories about tap dancing. Stories about cancer. Stories about hospitals. Stories about surgeries. Stories about her children. Stories about dogs.
And we would look at pictures. Black and white pictures. Pictures yellowed with age. Pictures that had scalloped edges. Pictures of me and my stories.
With her pictures she had obituaries of people she had lost.
What a strange practice, I thought. Why, with all of these pictures, was it necessary to keep this evidence of death? She maintained so much evidence of life.
When she passed, one of the first things I did was print out her obituary. I have so many memories and concrete objects from her - including some of her art work. But her obituary remains folded in my journal.
I hate saying goodbye, but I also believe that this was her clear decision. I believe that I will never really have to say goodbye and that in whatever comes next, she is at peace.