For Sally’s Grandmother

Written for Sally’s grandmother around 20 years ago

“Suddenly there was no more pain. It just stopped. Like when one stops breathing all of a sudden. For a moment, without the pain, she felt lost. So blessedly unaware of the body she had become accustomed to in the long years in which it had been her home. And then she realized – that body which, despite its gradual crumbling, its wearing, its becoming in a sense “threadbare”, she had come to love for after all it was the only one she would have – that body no longer belonged to her. It lay there motionless, except for the slight breeze that lifted the silver strands of hair so they quivered like spider silk, and her real self somehow hovered above, gradually collecting itself. This quickening of the air, of the atmosphere, that was now herself, moved from one object to another – a last loving glance at things she had held dear – the photo of her grandchild, of her son and of his wife – the emanations of the love she felt for them would, she knew, be handed on in the love they had held for her and were passing on to the child – she smiled, felt comforted. They would now mourn her passing – but her life had left its mark in them and would be continuous. As she glided through the room she felt herself getting younger, moving backwards in time. She remembered, flashbacks, of the past that now became the present. The birth of her granddaughter. It was gone in a flash and she already saw, as in a film run backwards, her son’s marriage, her husband’s death, the joy of the day her son had graduated – faster and faster, Christmases, birthdays, holidays. The time he had brought her a flower he had picked from the neighbor’s garden. The time he had scraped his knee and she had comforted him. Faster and faster her life rolled back. He was an infant. Then she was a child, back in the first grade, offering the teacher a branch of apple blossoms. And as she went backwards in time, a light began to grow brighter and brighter, gradually filling up the whole horizon. It had been a good life, she knew that now, and smiled. It had been a good life and she had given love and what she could to those who came after. The light grew ever stronger and soon she would be part of that light and would have returned to whence she had come.”

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