My Husband's aunt looked after her half brother all his life until she was 84, and physically had to be restrained from doing any more. Her own health had deteriorated, and she was not going to give up what she was committed to doing for her brother, (my Husbands uncle by his Father's second marriage) without us making this decision for Her. My Husband's Uncle only spoke Jersey French, and we could not speak it so we were unable to communicate. He loved us like a child who never grew up. Her own mother died when she was a child.
My husband's aunty was asked by her father to care for uncle, and she would not give up this commision. Uncle was doubly incontinent after recovering from encephalitis during the war occupation when medicines were not available. Three months later the drugs would have been on the island. Aunty didn't even go to her Father's own funeral, as there was no-one else to look after her brother. We will never know what sacrifices this great lady has made. She has not married, or sought recognition. She has never complained. She is still as warm and strong and vital within herself as she ever has been.
Now her mind is wandering, and her conversation does not make sense in a 'joined up world'. I sat and listened to her murmers and thoughts that can't make sense of this new place she is in. So long as she knows we are coming tomorrow she has a desire to see us. A will to be there to see us. Her body is almost gone, Her mind wandering to church services she found to be the moment's of truth and sustanance for her spirit to continue her work. She is speaking of her own mother and her father visiting her in her dreams. She is sleeping and dreaming.
It pains me that I want to hold her hands, and she finds me cold to touch. She is so warm and vital. I am cold to her senses.
I would be an iceberg in hell itself I am always cold in a furnace. The temperature in the ward is in the 80s and everyone complaing of not being able to stand it, and I am cold. My heart aches to give her physical comfort of a hug and hold her hands. We manage to hold on to each other long enough not to feel the differences, and then she says I am so much like 'the other one' that we can't be 'told apart'. I wonder what she means. She keeps speaking about finally knowing the truth.
If there is a saint in the world today it is this lady. This great and wonderful lady, who is full of warmth and self sacrifice. This person who has never been more than a tiny fragment, who nearly died at birth, who has never been valued, who has never asked for anything. I can't bear to lose my friend. Yet we all have our time. This treasured person, like so many the world will never know is my heroine. The world will be so empty without her, her smile, her delight at our visits. The best joy for her is to see my husband. If he had died she would have been destroyed. She has lived her life in the hope of wonderful things for the next generation. We have so much to live up to, to serve this lady, her sacrifices, her memories, her ultimate generosity of spirit.
We don't know what the days ahead will bring, if she will decide to continue, or choose this blessed sleep we call death.
What I do know is that death is no final ending, it is a new beginning that is beyond our understanding. For aunty and I know the sweetness of rest, and that our bones may lay down and become one with the earth but our spirits soar beyond any comprehension we have of this earthly life.
And so it should be. To find the security of deep and abiding trust in God, is His gift to a humble and broken heart.