Over the last ten weeks I've written about forgiveness, loss, fatigue and saying goodbye to our parents as they walk their end of life journey. Realistically, the death of ones parents is not really the end of the journey for those left behind. There are funeral arrangements to be made, homes to be cleared out and sold while other legal matters are addressed. Not surprisingly grief set-in and colored my world after all the business of my mother's life was completed.
I returned home and my life headed in another direction. No more panicked phone calls from family or healthcare providers alerting me to another health crisis. I didn't have to hop a plane to Jacksonville and spend a month living out of a suitcase. Strokes were not longer ravaging my mother's body and causing her to wonder as a child might when she would be allowed to return home from the rehabilitation center. Now I experienced a wave of sadness when I would think "I need to call mom" about something happening in my life and then remember I couldn't. At first I was eager to organize my parent's family photographs and my mother's recipes but couldn't complete the task because it exacerbated the sadness I felt.
Slowly the sadness that had been part of my being for months started to subside. Over time sorrow no longer tainted the memories of my mother and my father. I was able to remember and honor their life through laughter and positive reminiscences. Everyone's journey through grief is different but mine lasted just under three years beginning to end. It happened without warning but one day I consciously thought "I feel joy". I learned how sad I had been once I was no longer sad.
Life is lived in seasons and I have entered a new season of life. I am the matriarch of my family now and I intentionally work to be as good a grandmother to my grandchildren as my mother was to hers. After watching two pillars of my life die, it is abundantly clear to me that the end of life journey will one day be mine to walk and I have no time to waste on the petty and mundane of this world. Life is exhilarating, delicious, delightful, entertaining, opportune, fortuitous and above all short. I embrace the joy in my life and daily, I am reminded that life is pretty amazing. This is the lesson I took away from my parent's end of life journey and I am blessed to have walked it with them.