My Grandma Benson slipped away yesterday – quietly, peacefully and, I believe, right on time. As I wrote about recently, she had been gingerly dancing between here and there for a few weeks. She was unresponsive in recent days, but I have no doubt she knew all three of her grown kids had just been at her bedside, whispering their goodbyes and envisioning a sweet and easy transition to the Other Side for her. My dad stepped outside her room and, as a chaplain recited the Lord’s Prayer, my grandma took her last breath. Perfect timing.
I arrived within an hour of her passing and felt so fortunate to connect one last time with her physical body. I suppose this may sound odd to some, but I loved being able to caress her cheek, to smooth back her hair, to place my hand on the crown of her still-warm head. That felt so sacred and holy to me.
Throughout the day, family members, friends and caregivers stopped in to pay their respects. Given the amount of gabbing and giggling coming from my grandma’s room, I suspect an outsider would have never guessed we were in mourning. I fought back tears when my grandma’s favorite nurse, Esther, came into the room beaming – so thrilled that my grandma looked so peaceful and was finally free of the aches and pains that plagued her here. “I am going to miss her so much,” she said. “But I am so happy she is in a better place. She was ready to go.”
One of my grandma’s closest friends at the nursing home, a 92-year-old spitfire named Alice, also stopped by. She sat next to Grandma’s bed while sharing funny anecdotes and observations with my parents and me. Such a delight! Before she left, she turned to my grandma and said, “I’ll see you again, old friend. That will be a great day.”
I just loved the way both women celebrated my grandma and her life while also honoring the gift of death – subtly reminding us that crossing over to the place where love and light reign is the ultimate blessing in disguise.