Over last weekend, Kirstin and I had many difficult, and wonderful, conversations. About her eagerness to spend several hours with each of her friends before the end, vs. the reality that she probably only had a week or two of "good time" left. About not wanting to die at all, and yet being ready to let go. About the fact that as her breathing got worse, she would eventually have to choose between taking enough drugs to be comfortable, and being able to be awake and alert. About her love for each of us, and for God, and her trust in the next life, even as she felt all the terror of letting go of this one.
By Tuesday morning, she was struggling with every breath. And when the Hospice nurse came, she made the choice to start taking morphine to ease her breathing, even though the combination of morphine and drugs to control its side effects would knock her out almost all the time, and leave her loopy and drugged during the moments when she was awake. It was not a choice she made lightly; she had so hoped to have more time with us, and did not expect this to happen just hours after we had talked about the possibility.
Yesterday, a group gathered here to celebrate the Eucharist with her, and to anoint her with the wonderful words written by her friend Margaret Watson:
"Thank God for your eyes which saw the world in Love; for your ears which heard the Word in Love; for your mouth which spoke truth in Love; for your shoulders which bore the burdens of the unloved for Love's sake; for your hands which worked unhesitatingly in Love; for your feet which walked under bridges and among the poor and suffering in Love; for your heart undone and remade without fear, for Love's sake; in the Name of the One whose Name is unutterable except in Love incarnate... the Name we all share through the imagination and work of the Spirit, in concert with the One who spoke Love in the very beginning..."
She woke to greet each person, to smile, to hold her hand over her heart in thanksgiving as I relayed message after message of love to her.
Since then, the changes have continued to accelerate, and the Hospice staff say that she may die sometime today, definitely not more than a day or two.
Another friend, Carol Bower Foote, wrote a fairytale for her, a story in which Kirstin had always secretly wanted to be a butterfly. Holding up the longing to God, God replied, "Your choice." And, in the end, when her soul got weary, and her shoes almost too heavy to kick off into the grass, she chose...
"She surrendered into the rich, silken luxury of this pool of color and let herself sink. From deep within the sea of shifting hues, she felt herself begin to rise, floating and becoming lighter as she rose. She broke the surface with barely a ripple, nearly blinded by the bright summer light. Then, to her amazement, lighter than air, she continued to rise, above the grasses, the wildflowers, the trees. She became aware of herself at the center of an almost sacred rhythm, surrounded by the brilliant, translucent color of butterfly wings. She was whole! She was herself! She was totally free!
She felt as if her wings filled the sky…but gossamer light…the breeze teasing and tickling her bare toes. Suddenly, the sky was filled with other colorful creatures inviting her to dance. From within the joy which overwhelmed her, she felt rising from deep within her being, the unmistakeable light bell-like peel of laughter."
The time of turning is at hand. Join with me in praying her into Joy.
Thursday, June 30, 2011