The house is oddly silent.
For a last couple months our noisy friend in the living room has pumped oxygen through a tube, up the stairs, and through a cannula to help my mother-in-law breath. After she died our noisy friend was given a vacation. He had worked well – tirelessly, without complaint – and provided the most basic requirement for a women who needed comfort in her final days. A quiet now hangs in the air with our noisy friend shut down; his hum/hiss no longer fills every corner of the home.
It’s symbolic of Jan’s passing – plain and simple.
His departure is not the only reason our house is quiet this morning. Jan had a constant cough the entire time I knew her. We lived in the same house for 22 years, and her rattle had become a part of the ambiance in every way our noisy friend in the living room had in the last two months. A person would walk in the door and expect to hear the cough. However unpleasant to the ear, it meant she was there.
That too is gone.
But this means she is now comfortable, never needing to clear her throat or struggle to say anything. Ever. No longer will she be frightened. or frustrated by a body which doesn’t doe what she wants it to do. She is at peace, and the memories of her life – like her cough – have now transitioned to part of family lore.
The cough went l silent, but not her legend.
Sherry and I have been inspired, comforted, and literally bowled over by the outpouring of emotion, love and kindness from our friends and family during Jan’s last days. Words do help in circumstances like these. It was an sad and amazing journey – one I tried to share with you in my own way. Nobody would choose to repeat it. Nevertheless I am now prepared to take it on again. Of course, NOTHING prepares a person for the emotion of losing a loved one.
All you can do is hang on and let the tears roll.
Even now as I sit in the quiet of the downstairs, the GOOD parts of my relationship with Jan run through my head. I want to keep those alive, and tuck away the difficult encounters we had over the years. She wasn’t easy. Her head was complicated. She had a sharp tongue. I pushed all of this aside in the final weeks because there was no reason to let it interfere with giving her what she needed. Her comfort in the end was worth enduring every hard word, every passive comment, and the years of rattling coughs.
The silence of our house is now filled with her soul.