Saturday, July 25, 2015

At Peace with Death, Making Peace with Life

Asked to share the graveside commital for my 86-year old Aunt Jean Hyden Sheffield today, I found and read to family and friends gathered at South Mound Cemetery in New Castle, Indiana, the following snippet from 'Tuesdays With Morrie' by Mitch Albom:


Emery Sheffield is my mother's brother. He, 89, and Jean, 86, have lived in
Utah and Florida after retirement and living a lifetime in New Castle, Indiana.
Jean died earlier this week. Family and friends gathered in New Castle for
a touching celebration of Aunt Jean's life. 
"Last night..." Morrie said softly.

Yes? Last night?

"...I had a terrible spell. It went on for hours. And I really wasn't sure I was going to make it. No breath. No end to the choking. At one point, I started to get dizzy...and then I felt a certain peace. I felt that I was ready to go."

His eyes widened. "Mitch, it was a most incredible feeling. The sensation of accepting what was happening, being at peace. I was thinking about a dream I had las week, where I was crossing a bridge into something unknown. Being ready to move on to whatever is next."

But you didn't.

Morrie waited a moment. He shook his head slightly. "No, I didn't. But I felt like I could. Do you understand?

"That's what we are all looking for. A certain peace with the idea of dying. If we know, in the end, that we can ultimately have that peace with dying, then we can finally do the really hard thing."

Which is?

"Make peace with living."

He asked me to see the hibiscus plant on the ledge behind him. I cupped it in my hand and held it up near his eyes. He smiled.

"It's natural to die," he said. "The fact that we make such a big hullabaloo over it is all because we don't see ourselves as part of nature. We think because we're human we're something above nature."

He smiled at the plant.

"We're not. Everything that gets born, dies." He looked at me.

"Do you accept that?"

Yes.

"All right," he whispered, "now here's the payoff. Here is how we are different from these wonderful plants and animals.

"As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away. All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on--in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here."

His voice was raspy, which usually meant he needed to stop for a while.  I placed the plant back on the ledge and went to shut off the tape recorder. This is the last sentence Morrie got out before I did:

"Death ends a life, not a relationship."



John Franklin Hay
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
www.indybikehiker.com
www.twitter.com/indybikehiker
indybikehiker@gmail.com

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