I am trying to follow as you approach the traditional pearly gates. Your steps are small and carefully placed as you painfully make your way toward the splendor of light, white swirling clouds and music from unfamiliar instruments.
Your thin and arthritic hands grip tightly the walker, which you are holding closer than usual. Your shoulder bones show through the cotton gown and your head is not quite as erect as I am used to seeing. The white hair and the frail old body are the signs of your years and you appear as Mother Time herself.
Are you afraid? Sad? Shy? Are you remembering us and longing to return to planet earth? Would you? If you could, would you turn and hurry back this way rather than continue toward the unknown?
Do you see your sister up ahead? Are you making your way toward the arms of your mother?
Your steps are slowing now. You stop and rest as though to consider something important and I think I see the slightest turn of your shoulder, but I can’t be sure, perhaps it is only my own selfish need.
I don’t know how, but I can see your face as you continue to walk away from us. Your eyes are filled with the purest joy and I see both the delight of a little girl who knows she is special and the wonder of a mother who holds her infant daughter . . . and we have only your memory while heaven has a new matriarch.
Recently, I ran across the words above that I had written at 11:30 p.m. on January 12, 1998, immediately after the death of my dear old friend.