…I wrote this:
“At 4 AM, Dad gently woke me up and held my hand as we walked down the hall and as we approached Mom he said, “If you’re very quiet, you can hear how peaceful death is.”
Just before dawn on Easter Sunday, as the half-moon rose over the horizon, Mom drifted peacefully and quietly from this life.
Her breaths were like a tiny, delicate little bird’s: very shallow, very regular, and very soft, with a faint rhythmic “click” to each breath. She looked totally relaxed. But she didn’t look like my mother. Mom had taken leave two days before. That was so obvious to me as we helped “usher” Mom’s body across as she’d asked. Over the period of an hour, she drifted so sweetly and peacefully away, surrounded by her family, and within the glimmer of a Bavarian candle.
After she died, Dad went outside and picked a dogwood flower and placed it on Mom. He commented to me that dogwood flowers only stay light for a short time. He was right: in a matter of minutes, dark spots appeared on the tip of each flower.
Then we all sat with her. No one cried. It was simply too serene and beautiful, too “holy” even, to cry. Michael and Dad even took a few pictures. Mom looked beautiful in her white lace gown, under the white lace sheet, graced by the dogwood flower on Easter morning as the sun rose.
About two hours after Mom died, a Funeral Alternative couple came to get her. A husband/wife team, they gently told us what would happen. State law requires gloves and a plastic sheet and that she be covered and encased. Previously, I’d thought I couldn’t stay for such a thing, but I would have never considered leaving at that point. They handed me the dogwood while they wrapped her and placed her on the gurney. Then they “zipped her in,” forgetting to replace the flower – which I wanted with her. So I found my way to her, unwrapping her, and placed the flower on her chest. Then I gave her a kiss and said, “Schlafy, schlafy (my family’s “sleep tight”) one last time.”
Flowers and wine for Mom.