Before we walked a public skyway connecting hotels and popular public spaces. I see it from the ground now and realize it’s become a metaphor for life.
We’re all, whether saying goodbye to a loved one as we just have or trying to keep our shoulders back in the middle of this pandemic, in a link from one place in life to another. Ungrounded, we have to trust the footings, and thanks to a friend’s text today, I realize again that we—humanity—are the supports holding everything up.
She texted about looking for tiny treasures strategically placed along our way, and I realize that everyday people doing everyday things look like treasures when things are not so normal. En fresh aire, Bonnie and I watched a man in a safety vest blow leaves to clear a walkway. A young woman cleaned tables. Another polished the high walls of glass at a storefront entry. They were doing what’s next and it was pleasing to watch them.
Like stiff new shoes, this place is showing me that the people with whom we’re linked are the main thing. How we do what’s next to honor each other in passing is the main thing.
I am the girl who would just as soon not pass anyone and cares most about whether I’m warm enough, have the right things in my pockets and can be alone in my thoughts. So it’s with a lot of humility that I say I have learned exceptional things from family members in transition—in the link—about everyday treasures and supports designed to protect dignity, produce meaningful connection and uphold the good in all of us.
Excerpted from my thoughts about J’s mother’s for her memorial piece:
She always left the door open
Until her final weeks, she was at the door to greet anyone arriving and there to say goodbye. When pain made her finally sit she welcomed family members coming through that revolving door from a favorite chair. She was remarkable in her last days, sending many of us to a Google search to understand how the human spirit could come so fully and engagingly alive in a failing body and mind.
She was kind, interested and compassionate in the midst of suffering. The shyness she experienced in uncomfortable or new situations that could sometimes lead her into acute distress fell away. She was wholly present…so much so that one beloved granddaughter couldn’t grasp why on a Monday before her Thursday passing she wasn’t available to FaceTime. She delighted us all with her final fashionable haircut and trip for a pink mani-pedi.
We all have a love language. She needed the gift of time, and while she was never a very good receiver of gifts she loved to give them, often through acts of service.
This beloved woman could get your back up like a stone wall with too much spice in her words and make you feel like the most important person on the face of the earth with her faithful affection. She was smart and complex and deeply opinionated on a number of subjects.
She was the bookend to her beloved husband of 65 years, modeling the virtue of enduring the ups and downs of marriage, motherhood and life. She expected that virtue returned by all of us in footsteps that regularly returned home to her table. For that and all of us, she always left the door open.