Tonight is the first night in over 20 years that we went to bed without a kitty sleeping somewhere in our apartment – usually on the bed or on one of us – vying for space and sticking close. It is the wee hours of the morning as I get up, finding sleep elusive even after hours of intermittent sniffles and sobs and exhaustion since the departure of the 4th feline of our union of almost 22 years.
My grief is further compounded by the loss of my Aunt Connie Boe the morning before letting our Josie go. The grief my cousins, and their families can’t compare to losing their mom, and grandma – but it is loss – grief – a void where something that has been living with you, next to you – in your home – something that should still be there living and breathing and sleeping with you in the same bed or living space is now gone. Snatched away – in a way that should never be. Should never have been.
Connie knew she had lung cancer for a few years now – she actually kicked it for a while after her first round of chemo and radiation – something the doctors were surprised by – and we, her family were overjoyed by. The reprieve didn’t last, and as is cancer’s way the days stretched into months and a year or two before cancer took her away from us – leaving an ache and memories in place of the ones we wish we could still hold close. We had some time to prepare – as much as one can prepare for the loss of a parent or relative. We had a good Mother’s Day weekend visit, when she was still able to sit up and converse with us and enjoy some food we had prepared for her. Yet we know it would only be a matter of time before she would have to go.
We think it will be easier if we have time to prepare – get used to the idea that we know their time is short – but it isn’t – not really. We tell ourselves that we don’t want them to suffer as they begin to decline, and we see them growing weaker and less able to muster the strength to do the things they were able to do the months and weeks before and they slow down to a crawl and eventually come to a stop before they slip away from us. It still seems that our hearts have broken into little pieces, leaving a hole that was once filled by them after they have gone. We’ll hear the pastor or priest talk about this not being permanent – that because of faith in God we have hope.
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hell.
So as the morning dawns on a new day, and we continue saying our goodbyes and weep for those we’ve lost – and wish we could just hold, or talk to them one more time – and feel the ache that their leaving has left us with – let’s grasp hold of the Hope of the words of the book of Revelation – that we are not to fear because Christ has conquered death and hell and our good-byes are not forever!