“She’s transitioning,” the nurse told us, which was a lot more comforting to hear than, “She’s dying.” “Transitioning” made it sound as if she were simply moving from one phase of life to another, and that’s actually what she was doing. A booklet given to us by the hospice chaplain contained a poem that described dying in terms of a ship sailing away toward the horizon, getting smaller and smaller in our sight, but not in reality. On a far distant shore, one beyond our own view, the ship is growing larger and larger to those who are watching and welcoming her on the other side.

My mother-in-law passed away yesterday, peacefully and comfortably, surrounded by loved ones. She was 91, and had been on dialysis for more than a year. As her kidneys and the rest of her body grew weaker and weaker, she was in increasing pain and exhaustion. She decided last week that she wanted no more of it. With the support of her husband and sons, she ended her dialysis treatments and began hospice care. Less than a week later, she was gone.

It’s going to be difficult for a while for those of us left behind, especially my father-in-law, her husband of 68 years. But we’ll help and support each other, as families do. We’ll take comfort in the warmth of our stories and our memories, of her life and her love, and of knowing in our hearts that she is being watched and welcomed on a far distant shore.

August 23, 2019
©Betty Liedtke, 2019

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