Saturday, July 9, 2011

Saying Goodbye

Goodbye...the word is a contraction of the phrase, "God be with ye." We say it all the time. Except, I don't. Not ever with people when they are going or I am leaving, do I use that word. Generally, I say, "Love you! Talk with you soon! See you later!" Anything but goodbye.

In other languages, there are more subtle but specific delineation between, goodbye and farewell. We aren't that lucky with English; those two words are so tightly intertwined as to be one in the same.

Adios...the Spanish goodbye, literally translated is, 'of God/with God'. Via con dios.... farewell, as we think of it, really means, Go with God. When you consider the literal translation, suddenly these casual words take on a deep and solemn meaning. The Japanese only say, 'Sionaro,' when one will not see the other person for a very long time or ever again. Some words are meant to be uttered only when the finality of a relationship's passing is recognized. For me, Goodbye, is one of those.

This has been an emotionally difficult week for me. Exhausting.

I met up with my cousin, Val from Florida to help her empty out my Aunt Katherine's apartment. You might have read about Kat in "Life Is What You Make It"; she is a remarkable woman.

Never having children, it falls to my cousin, who is her power of attorney, and me to dismantle her apartment. This ain't our first rodeo; Val and I have had this sad task before. She helped me dig through my father's things and when her mom who lived with Dad had to go to a nursing facility, we dismantled their home yet again. It was Val who dismantled Kat's home 12 years in order to move her and her husband into the continuing care community.

Doing this for Kat was a daunting task that had to be completed in three days. During the frenzy of activity, I stopped and looked at something in my hand and couldn't help but think, "How effin' sad; a lifetime of collecting treasures and making a home comes down to people cramming things into boxes and wondering how we will ever get rid of it all. How sad...how incredibly sad." Turns out all of us had the same thoughts when we sat down exhausted that first night and talked it out.

Had Michael not decided to rearrange his schedule and come with me, I don't know how Val and I could have done it. I'm fairly certain we wouldn't have and all I can do is thank him over and over for all he did. An advantage he had over Valerie and me is not being bound to the emotional charge of seeing a beloved item that held memories for us. He was able to keep emotional distance. Val and I are very pragmatic as well, but for us it was more difficult.

We divvied up furniture with Val's son, Clay, and I'm so happy some of her quality furniture will stay in the family. We shipped her nativity scene off to Val's daughter, Whitney. We shipped a few items to Val's home. Michael packed some artwork and small pieces to come home with us. I will admit that a few small items have come home with me, not because I necessarily like them, but because I recognized them over a lifetime of visiting her home and just couldn't let them go to a stranger. And yet, I know that's eventually what will happen to them when my time comes.

But, not today. Not today.

All the rest went as a donation to Goodwill Industries. All of it. And that was not the goodbye of which I speak.

Aunt Kat is in the care center now. We've called in Hospice because she is, 'actively dying' and needs the additional comfort and care as she eases out of this world. She is confused, while at other times she is surprisingly lucid. She whispered to Val, "I need some boxes, I am going on a trip." Val asked, "Who's going with you?" "No one; I'm going alone." We looked at each other...she said to Kat, "Okay, we'll make sure you have what you need."

Val has been a hospice volunteer coordinator as part of her professional life; I have been a social worker. We both know it's really very usual for the departing soul to talk of journeying. Kat's confirmed what we all know.

Later she said to me, when I bent to give her a kiss, "Your face looks like a Christmas tree!" I laughed, "Well, that can't be very good!" She whispered, "Oh no, it all lit up and very pretty!" I believe we begin to see the aura of the spirit when we are leaving this world...perhaps that's what she was seeing.

No, the Goodbye came when Val left to catch her flight home. The goodbye came when I had to travel back to Pittsburgh with Michael the next day. Goodbye was whispered as she slept and I know I was seeing her alive for the very last time. Goodbye was said with sadness when Val and I have to deal with the notion that we have to leave her in the hands of others who will watch over her and care for her in our absence. Goodbye comes when we have to stop the small twinges of guilt that are part of the process for us...

I Reiki'd Kat while we were visiting. This was the first time I have done energy work on a person who is leaving this world. It was a remarkable feeling. I struggle to put it into words.

When I was attempting to bring her energy down into her feet, it was like feeling a window shade suddenly rolling up. I got the image of wispy smoke quickly rising through a chimney....it is the energy leaving her body and going up through her crown chakra. The only way I could describe it to Michael and Val who watched as Kat began to twitch and move her feet was, "Imagine standing at the edge of the ocean when the tide is going out. The wave washes in against you legs which feels usual, but the tug against your calves is much stronger and quicker as the wave goes out with the tide's turn."

They could understand that. It is a miracle to feel the spirit rushing homeward. I am blessed to have experienced it.

And, on Friday I said a hurtful Goodbye to Albie. We buried him and paid tribute to my beloved friend of 40+ years. It was a beautiful service as he would have wanted and been proud to have been a part. He loved productions and was the master of beautiful events.

I have had enough of Goodbyes for one week. So I think I will leave you with this image...it helps me to remember Kat this way...not the way I saw her when I whispered "Goodbye, dear one, I honor you for all you gave taught me; I love you for all you have been to me."



Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Katherine's niece & Al's friend

6 comments:

Rocky Creek Scotties and Rocky Creek Ramblings said...

Reaching out to hug you my friend - and I'll share my own Kat with you occasionally - my dear sweet daughter, who goes by Kat to all her friends and her old Mom hangs on and calls her by her given name, Ketturah. Her twin was to be named Katherine.

Eva Gallant said...

What a touching post. Hugs to you, Holly.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Oh Holly... When it rains it pours. I am so sorry for the sadness this brings.

I'm just back from a weekend out of town and when I saw this photo in my sidebar I got a lump in my throat. I suspected it was your Aunt.

You said it all so beautifully here-- the sadness of your loss, the reality of the situation and the grace your Aunt has in her final days. I'll pray for an easy and joyful passing for her. And for you-- I'm sending you a long hug and hope it brings you comfort.

xoxoxo jj

Donna said...

I now understand your sigh....your "no doubt" heavy sigh...hang in there dear friend, your loved ones were blessed to have had you in their lives....

jkc said...

I am so sorry to read about your aunt. We have shared so many similar experiences that I feel like I know your Aunt Kat. We send prayers and good thoughts up the street to you and Michael.

Sarah said...

Awww hon..I am sending gentle hugs your way..can you feel them! Letting go of folks..goodbyes are so hard. It has been a rough time for you Holly..know I am here if ya need me..only an email or phone call away hon!!
Hugs and love to you, Sarah

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