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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Getting on the Train...

I remember exactly how I felt that last night sitting at my Grandma's bedside...my Mom and Sister to the side of me.  We were in the place that had become our second home for almost three weeks, Casey House.  It is a precious space to be in.  It is not a place for wimps.  Only the truly authentic can hold their own in the room where one world meets another.  The space between when someone you love is here and they are out and about in the universe.

The truth is, I had been waiting for my time.  My time to help.  There were moments when I thought it would never come, but then I would stop and remember my mantra....Trust the Process.  I had learned it in when my Grandpa was in the same space several years before.  His journey was so different, but fitting for him.  Her journey was fitting for her...it was a quiet time of getting ready to get on the train again.  Her sparkly, funny nature slowly faded and that was what was so hard to watch.  Her last stroke had taken away her words, her ability to move on one side, then her ability to smile and then her ability to swallow.  I always knew that hospice was a magical thing...truth be told...if I could do my career again...that is what I would do.  But experiencing it first hand...watching it...made me respect it even more. 

On that last night, she looked peaceful, beautiful...just like how she had looked in pictures from when she was younger.  I remember watching her slow breathing and I just started talking.  Talking about how scared she must have been when she got on the train in Vermont at age 17 to start her life in DC to help with the war effort.  She didn't want to be stuck in her small town...working in the ten cent store.  She got on the train.  She never looked back.  She was fearless.  I swear I could feel how she felt when she was young...on the platform...waiting to board the train.  Saying goodbye to her family.   Knowing that despite their tears, getting on that train was what she needed to do.  Fearless.

I told her that we (my Mom, Sister, and I) would be okay if she wanted to get on the train again.  We would support her.  We would remember how much fun we had.  We would remember how she took such good care of us.  We would remember her amazing meals.  We would laugh and smile...always.  I remember telling her that she was so brave...then and now.  If she wanted to get on the train, we would cheer her on...she did not need to worry anymore.  She was strong.  She was fearless.

We each kissed her goodnight.  We went to get dinner...eating bad things...it was how we got through.  I remember looking up at an old calendar that was hanging on the wall...part of the decor at Bugaboo Steakhouse...it was from 1947.  That was the year my Grandparents got married.  If I had not known before...I knew it then. I don't know that we had been home five minutes when the phone rang...asking us to come back.  By the time we got back to Casey House...she had boarded the train and was headed to her next destination.  

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