Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Final Goodbye



Morning comes. The smell of fresh-brewed coffee filters 'neath a bedroom door. The strong aroma of robust black is inhaled, masking the stench of Death that awaits. An elderly woman at the cusp of two worlds lies motionless in bed no longer wondering about the biggest con ever told. Now she knew; and it was not what she or anyone else thought it to be. No family member long gone came to guide you into your new life; no benevolent light shone; no peace of mind and heart were to be found. Instead, Death came to visit. And it was ugly and mean. Death came with its rotting smell of carcass to stand vigil at your bedside, patiently waiting for your last gasp of breath. It waited anxiously as it tried to contain its rapacious desire of claiming you before your time; its cold, fetid breath suffocating your world even more.

For months she's been held prisoner inside these four walls - four telling walls that could write the story of her life. Walls that once bore witness to the moans of slow, rhythmic pleasures that now instead bear witness to the moans of pain that slowly leaches a life.

What kind of God would allow Death to visit and mock her pain? Was there a God? She had prayed to him for guidance and strength, yet Death had come. She guessed He must’ve been busy.

The door cracks ajar. A young face, ruddy with life, peeks inside, "Are you awake?"

"Yes. I smelled the coffee." She attempts to sit up even though she knows she is no longer able; atrophied, frail arms fail to hold her fragile weight. She gasps at the sharp pain that overtakes and tries to control her breathing; a tear escapes the corner of an eye.

The young woman rushes to place the cup of coffee on top of the bedside table, "Mum, please, let me help you." This loving and thoughtful act of assistance, however, only serves to sadden this once strong and vibrant woman even more. Compassion, an act that is delicately given, leaves little room for dignity and independence. She notices her Mother’s labored breathing and paler-than-usual look; her skin, clammy to the touch.

"I'm going to call the doctor. You don’t look well."

"Please don’t."
A cadaverous, cold hand reaches out and grabs with the labor of someone whose strength has long departed. A beseeching whisper, "Please. There’s nothing else he can do. No more hospitals...please. I don’t want to die there."

Teardrops fall onto the young woman's silk blouse, leaving rings that carry the message of ongoing pain. She prays for strength as she watches her lifelong protector, confidante and best friend savagely deteriorate; a woman who, not long ago, appeared healthy with life.

The mother senses Death's breath closer. He is impatient and hungry and wants to be fed. The pestilent vigil has come to an end.

She closes her eyes, "Please, baby, I'm a little tired. Just let me rest a bit."

The young woman covers her mother with a blanket and kisses her cold, clammy forehead, "Let me go make you some breakfast. I’ll be back in a few, alright?" But the Mother knows exactly what she is going to do. However, it no longer matters. She gazes lovingly one last time at the reflection of her younger self; into the younger, sad eyes of a different color that carry her spirit and have cried much these past few months. She grabs her daughter’s hand and squeezes it with all her might. This is their final goodbye. She knows that when her daughter returns, she will be gone. She lets go of her daughter's hand no longer able to hold on. The young woman leaves the room.

She scans her bedroom one last time letting her eyes fall on the photographs of a loving husband long gone and a daughter that she would have made a deal with the Devil if he would have granted her more years to stay by her side. But he must've been busy as well. Memories and images of a loving and happy life quickly race through her mind colliding with tears of happiness and sadness; all wanting one last recognition from her, all bidding their farewell as well.

She closes her tear-filled eyes in final submission. Death approaches, acknowledging his victory at last. He enshrouds his due and finally claims what he has come for, finally claiming what he is owed.

39 comments:

Rinkly Rimes said...

A very harrowing tale indeed! We all wonder what it will be like at the end.

christine said...

This is so powerful I had tears ready to fall, especially reading this line...The Mother gazes lovingly at the reflection of her younger self... so sad

Sue J said...

I found this very moving. Beautifully written.

Carrie Burtt said...

Powerfully sad, yet beautiful.

willow said...

Excellent. Very touching piece.

Arian Tejano said...

"Teardrops fall onto the young woman's silk blouse, leaving rings that carry the message of ongoing pain."

fiction works this way.. i'm glad i read it again.

Friko said...

A fine piece of writing.

Elizabeth said...

My Mother passed away at age 91, this past April. Your story brought back a hundred memories of this past year, or so, as my sisters and I cared for her, waited and watched. I liked the perspective you chose and the feelings you evoked with simple words and phrases. You brought another view and element to all of us, thank you,

Elizabeth

Shari Sunday said...

I loved this. I am still hoping for the light, though.

Paul Andrew Russell said...

A moving piece of writing. I had a lump in my throat by the end of this. Well done.

Tumblewords: said...

Excellent writing. This brings the fear of death into the open and looks it straight in the eye.

Wine and Words said...

This is too close to a recently reality, and I look like an idiot bawling my eyes out here at work, thank you very much. Serves me right for blogging during work hours. Pass the Kleenex....somebody....

Beautifully written.

Dianne said...

Beautiful but very sad... bringing back memories of my own mother's passing...

Judie said...

This hits way too close to home for me. Having just gone through this with Rod's Mum, I find it way too comment intelligently. Just give me a chance to recover from all the angst.

Florida Girl Meets the Midwest said...

Wow. This is a chilling characterization of death. Well done.

Berowne said...

Beautifully moving; congratlations.

rel said...

Rebecca,
You paint this picture with the finest detail. To read it is to be present at that final moment and to breath a sigh of sadness and shed a tear.

Thanks for visiting the microscope and saying howdy!
rel

Laura said...

Rebecca this is beautifully written. I feel her, feel what she is feeling...you have captured the parting from "here" to what ever comes next with sensitivity and grace. Well done.

Rose - The Center of My Self said...

Every detail, sense, smell, touch - beautifully wrought. It does make me sad, though, that her experience of transition is sad. I remember a friend whose mom had been ill for a long time. At the end, her family gathered round and sang her over to the other side. Isn't that beautiful? I have no fear of the next part of my journey - we all do it - and I hope that there will be some joy for me to carry on the journey.
I digress, though. This was a beautifully written piece, Rebecca.

Brian Miller said...

you write a beautiful sadness here...so moving a magpie...smiles.

nana_ang_poppaphil said...

This is so powerful and so well written. I have tears in my eyes just from reading this.

J.C. Montgomery said...

It's hard to comment when left speechless. And even if I did think of something, it would echo many of the other's sentiments.

Very powerful. Beautifully crafted.

kathew said...

waiting or watching... it all is very hard...wonderfully written

Fireblossom said...

I hope that my final hour will not be so grim, though she did at least have someone there who loves her. And it sounded as if she had led a full life. Thanks for your very kind comments at my blog, and for the invitation here!

flaubert said...

Excellent writing!
Pamela

RiikaInfinityy said...

This really touching and sad, your words sparked and took us into a wonderful journey

vivinfrance said...

As for many others who've posted their reactions, this hit very close to home for me. Your writing, so sensitive, seems to have been wrenched from you, and we can feel the grief. A very brave piece of writing, and I thank you for sharing it.
ViV

Wayne Pitchko said...

nicely written.....and hits home here with recent passing....sad...but i fell sadness can be very beautiful if you just let it BE...take care

rebecca said...

Thank you everyone for your kind words and comments. Though the piece is fictional - and it hit many readers on a personal level -the grief is culled from a real life experience. The feeling of hopelessness that one feels when watching a loved one die is something that stays with you forever and is a universal emotion that we can all relate to. My deepest condolences to those who have just gone through recent losses. I wish you peace and strength..

((hugs and love)) to you all,
Rebecca

Caty said...

this was so well written...so sad. Very real!

surbi said...

Rebecca.. such a powerful portray of thoughts before the final departure.. So beautifully crafted emotions of mother and daughter.. especially mother.. It only brings tears to my eyes.. very powerful indeed. I dread this moment in my life.

Star said...

This is probably how it really is, a truly sad passage - leaving memories and love behind in a home soon to be empty.
Well done.
Blessings, Star

Selma said...

Extremely powerful. Stark yet full of truth. Very, very well described.

Kim at Let Me Start By Saying said...

Chilling, clean, beautiful and vivid.
The beast just hanging out in an old lady's room is such a vicious image, his patience is befuddling. Like he's willing to play fair, not rush things, as long as he gets fed eventually.
Such great imagery.
This is fantastic.
Came from the LALB linkup.

Sandra Tyler said...

This is way too hear wrenching. But I had to read it through. Its way, way too close to home for me, as I am dealing with an aging mom, not on the brink of death, but struggling at the end of her life. It is too close to what I imagine her own end might be, our own final goodbye. I don't know whether to thank you or curse you!:) but I just might follow you:) found you via the writing hop.

debbiesdays said...

Wow. This is so good. So very very good. The emotions are so strong here. Left me with tears at the end.

zongrik said...

but she dies in her own room, surrounded by her memories, not in some hole, lost and cold!! and the family got to say goodbye

depth of field

A Walk In My Heart said...

A moving story. Very beautifully written by you.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

A powerful story and yes Death often comes cruelly and sometimes we just have to relent.

Beautifully written.

Anna :o]