A year on.....warning: this post goes on and on...
A year ago today my great aunt (actually my dads late wife's step mum but we were very close to her - she was my 3rd grandmother) died after a short period of cancer. She was an amazingly sprightly 93 years old who had lived independently until the last month. I miss her.
I managed to get to see her the day before she died, a true act of God considering i had tried and failed( due to snow) twice previously. She was as thrilled to see me as I was to see her, although I was genuinely shocked how quickly she had gone down hill.
We talked, we reminisced, I asked all the questions about her life that I knew I'd never have another chance to ask, we laughed, we cried, we held hands when she struggled to breathe.
She was an inspirational woman and I miss her; just writing about her reminds me how she's gone.
We had not seen each other alone for many years and so had never really talked faith. She knew I was training to be a lay minister and I knew she was a very active christian, but that was all. But that last time I knew we were meant to talk and we did. As she was recovering from a breathing restriction I was praying quietly and when she could talk she told me how my prayers helped.
I asked her how she was feeling and she surprised me by saying she was scared. I didn't expect this of a woman who knew God was ready to welcome her. But silly me, she was scared of the pain, the unknown amount of time still to come, the unknown; not the eternity she was heading to. She She was ready to meet God and her late husband, but also sad that she wouldn't see those left on earth.
After this I asked her if she'd like to pray with me and she said she wanted the last rites. This knocked me sideways; I have never done them, I had no book with me to source them, and honestly I just felt unready. Instead I said I would pray for peace and calm; and I prayed in a way that wasn't of me, for her calm through the final times, for Gods arms to welcome her, for pain to be taken away.
We both cried at the end, but from the peace we both felt. She said she felt ready and calm now. I hated to leave, knew I wouldn't see her again. It was so hard, yet I knew I'd done something good that day.
The thing is when my dad rang the next day to say she died it was clear we felt differently about her passing. I felt relief that the pain and suffering was over. He was angry that I wasn't shocked or very upset. I tried to explain the conversations we had, but dad doesn't have a faith anymore and he felt I'd given her permission to give up.
I'm estranged from my mum, and my dad chooses to not talk to me if her and I don't talk, so the whole situation of the funeral arrangements, the funeral itself and the wake was difficult. My brother (also estranged from them) and SIL managed to get to the funeral which helped, but what I really wanted was to be able to tell my dad how ready she was to die and how she needed the prayers to help her face the end. But it didn't happen.
I can't believe it's been a year. And therefore it's also been a year since I saw my parents. I know my great aunt would like to see things worked out between us and maybe in time that will happen, but it doesn't seem close as yet.
Reflecting, somehow it is not my great aunts death I am mourning today, although I wish I could see her. I am mourning, as I do so often, the loss of my parents, or the non existence of the parents I long for. So much reminds me of that loss, yet I live through it and know it's ok. One day, I pray before their own last days, things will be better, but for now I mourn.