Friday, October 20, 2017

last words (with berries)


 These days I often think about dying, and death. Which also makes me think about life, and living. I've been close to what feels like a lot of dying people, people I loved. My father, my mother, my dearest friend, my stepmother, my brother.


I was with my father exactly when life left him. My stepmother was out, buying him a Jamba Juice, the only thing he would eat those final days. Boysenberry. I held his hand, he held my hand, and his last words were, "Stay." Pause. "Stay." I did.

I wasn't with my mother at her moment of death, but when I left the hospice for the final time, her last words to me were, "Give us a hug." The hospice people were lovely. They brushed her hair and remarked how pretty she was.

The last day I saw my brother, in the hospital he never left, a week before he died, he wanted Trader Joe's Kombucha and frozen strawberries. The only other thing he wanted was his old radio, so he could listen to baseball games. His last words to me were close to my mother's. "Give me a hug."

Dying is profound. The most important thing I've learned in that realm is you never want to let someone die alone. They want to be touched, held, remembered, loved. They might want berries too. Isn't that what we all want? To be touched, held, remembered, loved. (And eat berries.)

So, the part about dying making me think about living. After the first few deaths I had that, "seize the day" urge, and did the crazy thing of opening an antique store four hours from home, because I thought it would be fun. (It was and it wasn't. It's how this blog got started.)

With my brother's recent death, I've found a different tone. It has to do with love, and being present.


To be continued. Maybe.
Photos taken at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

16 comments:

  1. A beautiful post, brought a lump to my throat. Thank you. That little chubby hand at the end :)

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  2. Hello Jennifer, Your words resonated with me. Since coming to Taiwan, so many, especially in the older generation of my family have gone. A while ago I brought my old answering machine to use here, and found that all the messages from a decade ago were still on it. Listening to them, I was surprised how many of those people have died, including my grandmother (who did make it to age 101) and even some friends who weren't so old.
    --Jim

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    1. Oh Jim, it must have been amazing and strange and wonderful to hear those voices!

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  3. Thank you. Every post leaves me with something new to think about or explore.

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    1. What a lovely thing to say. Thank you.

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  4. So sorry to hear that you lost your loved ones, dear friend !
    My parents died many years ago and I still miss them so much !
    Greetings

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    1. Greetings, Ela! I had no idea how hard it would be to lose a parent (as an adult). You never stop missing them.

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  5. I so agree with you , Jen - to die alone seems to me to be the loneliest thing ever. I was there in the emergency room when my mother died, and can only hope that she knew this.

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    1. I'm so glad you were with her. I'm sure she felt you there.

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  6. I remember feeling the same “seize the day” urge after helping my father recover from major heart surgery. I don’t think I was back home in SF for a full month before we got our house in Point Reyes, a house with fruit trees, many berries, and space to grow flowers and vegetables. It’s when I started my blog, which was actually my husband’s idea, and “our” blog, about our kitchen garden, in the beginning. It’s a long story, but we only stayed for a year. Similar to your antique store experience, it was fun, and it wasn’t. Love and berries. I think I’ll want the same.

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    1. Thank you for sharing this, Denise. The image and idea of growing things is beautiful, and seems like such a good way to live with grief. I love the way you often see memorial benches in gardens.

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  7. A touching and moving post, Jennifer. And that cute little hand brings hope for the future.
    @mnapoli25

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    1. Thank you so much, Michele. Gardens (and little hands) are so nourishing.

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  8. I don't venture these ways too often these days but I'm glad I did today. I have always felt that you and I connect somehow some way. Unfortunately my Mom could not speak anymore when in hospice but I knew she wanted me to stay, what else could I possibly do? I wasn't there when she passed on, my brother was..I couldn't ask for a better ending, he was a wonderful son. Death of loved ones is tough but as we all know there is rebirth. Lyra has brought you so much, and the world goes round my friend, as we all know.

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    1. Thanks, Amelia. It's so true--you don't need words to show someone you love them. It shines through the eyes, and touch.

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