Yeah, well, life goes on...
My mother asked me how long it took to die. I told her it looked like about eighty years. I was right.
There's not much you can do for someone at the end aside from making them comfortable. In spite of the great and divine process of dying, there is also the boredom and physical abominations. Dying can be messy. It's not like it is in the movies. That last breath seems to hang waiting...waiting...maybe another inhalation--no?--was that it? It seemed like my mother just could not believe that the next breath just would.not.come.
And that was that.
I have heard for a long time that the most important things we collect in our lives are relationships. I can say without any hesitation now that this is true. If there was a legacy my mother left, it was that relationships--good or bad--remain after you are gone. The relationships that she left were shells of possibilities, disappointments and pieced-together quilts of long-held grudges. I suppose sometimes a legacy is about what you don't want your life to be. It made me sad to think that those old angers and resentments were with her when she died, but in some ways relieved me to know that whatever breath they used in her life was also extinguished when her life ended.
I could not wait to get back to my children, back to the home of my heart. Back to the warmth and embrace of my loving family, to the breaths we yearn to share with one another, and to the warmth of our acceptance, respect, appreciation and joy we find in sharing a life together. This life. These breaths.
Make your breaths count. What lies on that invisible stride of life is everything you create from the first sharp awkward intake of air...until the dark stillness pushes down and down and down until there is no more chance left for more. Life is all about what we take in, and what we give back in kind. And in "kind"ness we will find that every breath is the gift.