A hope note
A young man called to ask if I would visit his mother. She was in a hospital, and he believed she was dying. Three topics of conversation in her hospital room I think deserve sharing. They deal with ultimate issues, issues that need addressing before we reach our death bed.
At one point, I asked about unfinished business: Have you said everything you need to say to your inner circle of family and friends before it’s too late? She smiled and said she had. The tributes her family delivered at the memorial service affirmed in spades that she had.
I asked about regrets. Grateful to have had a good education and satisfying career, to have birthed and reared two wonderful children who are now happily married, she regretted not having had the opportunity to be a grandmother, an experience outside her control. And although widely traveled, she regretted never having made it to the Grand Canyon. She added, for my benefit, ‘If you’ve got a place you want to see, don’t delay.’
When I asked what she expected death to be like, she hesitated not one second: ‘Transition.’ ‘Hard?’ I asked. ‘No, easy,’ she said. ‘This is hard.’
She died ‘like one who wraps the drapery of her couch about her and lies down to pleasant dreams,’ to borrow words from William Cullen Bryant’s ‘Thanatopsis.’
Some of my take-home messages from that visit are the need to say often those three little words that we love to hear, not to postpone indefinitely the things we most want to do, and to discuss freely with a few significant others how we ideally one day hope to ‘take our chamber in the silent halls of death.’