With love for my Godmother, confidant and friend, who lost her 13-year battle against breast cancer in 2009.
I think of you still every day, Aunt Betsy.
She watched them all as they watched her sleep
in the pool of yellow light that protruded through the windows
cracked open just a bit to let the warm September breeze
skip along and tickle her skin.
Her thin strands of brown hair scattered across the pillow,
and the bones in her hands stood like a miniscule mountain range
on a mattress of feathers.
Her soft chin tucked gently under itself,
angled slightly toward her faded blue statue of the Virgin Mary.
The air in the room stood still for a moment,
slightly sullied by the smell of Ovaltine and saltine crackers.
A deck of Bicycle red playing cards strewn across her feet;
they whisper and chuckle from the match they had played earlier that week,
“My Jack of Clubs trumps your Ace of Diamonds!”
Outside, the sun breaks through the clouds
in streams of majestic gold,
the way it does when you swear angels are singing up above,
and playing their harps, smiling at newborn babies
and holding the hands of those who are fading.
A beaming grin swept across her face —
or did it?
As quickly as it came, it was no more.
The smile lines remained:
a whimsical gift to those left standing, waiting for her eyes to open,
when she would then explain with such enthusiasm as she always had
the visions she just witnessed.
But there was nothing she could say; those words never came.
Her radiance was left to do the talking.
It was magical, emotional, painful, peaceful.
A final rise and fall of her chest;
her lungs, heart and everything encased in it.
A steady turn of her head,
a simple nod,
a lasting smile.
It was her way of telling them,
“I’m fine, I’m happy. I am at peace.
You can let me go now.”