Two days ago I got word that the elderly mother of a dear friend passed away and I was surprised at my reaction to the news. Typically I am saddened, shocked even, given the circumstances, but in this case I felt a flood of relief and dare I say it, joy.
Marie was 99 years old and up until 3 years ago she lived in her own home, drove her own car and enjoyed an active social life. She had led a full and accomplished life; enjoyed an illustrious career, raised a son, and took great pride in the accomplishments of her grandchildren. An episode at the age of 96 rendered her immobile and she had to be placed in a nursing home and despite her ravaged body, her mind was as sharp as ever.
Marie was the ultimate matriarch; capable and strong, a true leader, but she was also wife, mother, and friend to many, and it was these roles that brought out the compassionate and loving woman in her. She had a practical way of viewing things in life – always a realist she could cope with anything life brought her so when she lost her independence she prepared for the inevitable. Marie was not afraid to die. In fact, I believe she was more afraid of living too long and over the last three years she greeted each day with acceptance as she secretly prayed for death. She had lived a very full life and had no regrets. It was, in her mind, time to go home.
When her body started to shut down her mind remained as sharp as ever. She said her goodbyes to her son and grandchildren and then slowly, peacefully, slipped away. How beautiful is that?
Death is part of life and no one escapes it, but in a world where so many pass too young, too painfully, we can only dream to leave this world as peacefully as Marie so instead of tears of sadness and regret, we shed tears of joy and contentment in celebration of a life well lived. She lived and died on her terms. We should all be so lucky.
Thank you Marie for setting such a wonderful example of how to live a rich, full life, for giving us perspective, and laughter, and joy. The world is a better place because you graced it. I won’t cry because you are gone, rather I’ll cry out of gratitude for having known you, however briefly. Rest in peace, dear Marie. Welcome home.