Die Like We’re Living

One of the last times I visited my Grandmother at the Care Center where she lived, staff members wheeled her hall-mate out on a gurney. 

“We all come here to die,” my Grandmother said matter-of-factly after her sheet-covered neighbor passed from view.

She was right: residents in her wing of the Care Center weren’t waiting to get better or younger or to move somewhere else.  This building was their last stop in this life.  She and her neighbors had come there to die.

Words failed me at that moment, as they often do when we come face-to-face with the limits of our existence.  I held her hand as her words about death lingered in the space between us.  The conversation gradually picked up again and we talked about goings on of various members of our extended family.  Invariably Grandma’s information was more up-to-date than mine on cousins and great aunts and family friends.  Even as the world she inhabited narrowed, her sharp mind and wit enabled strong connections to a much wider world beyond her tiny room.  It was true that she longed for death.  But even as the end drew very near, Grandma died like she was living.

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