Lessons in Grief – Part 3

Fulfilling Final Wishes

At the hospital the night before The Mom passed away, she asked that she be buried with a particular ring that she’d left in her apartment.  Two years before that, she’d asked that a postcard I sent her from a visit The Husband and I made to NASA also be buried with her but when I asked her that night where it was, she didn’t have any recollection of it.  She was pretty out of it by then.

When we got to her apartment, The Husband found the ring, a circle of calla lilies entwined with the word Jesus, on her nightstand.  I stored it in a small box in my purse for the trip to the funeral home.

The day after she passed, as I started the sad task of cleaning out her apartment, I came across this magnet on her fridge:

Eve and Roarke are the lead characters in J.D. Robb’s (aka Nora Roberts) In Death mystery series.  The Mom and I loved those books and even talked about them in the few hours I had with her before she passed.  The stories and relationships in these books are intense, with a cast of characters who jump off the page and made us laugh, cry and talk about them as if we knew them.  Because we did. 

I had two of those magnets made, one each for The Mom and I.  Because she’d lost so much of her sight, she listened to Eve and Roarke on a device she got from The Perkins Institute for the Blind and I listened to them on CD on my long commutes to work in the Before Times.  Since those books meant so much to her and I already had mine on my fridge at home, I added the magnet to the ring box.  I think she would have been tickled to have that with her.

After I’d already taken the ring and magnet to the funeral home, I came across the postcard in a folder of documents from when she’d arranged her burial years before.  I was so happy to find it, I called the funeral director to ask if I could drop it off and he was glad to help.

I remember being really surprised when she told me how much she’d liked the postcard.  She said, “I know you’ll think I’m being silly, but I’d like it to be buried with me.”  It spoke to her in a way she couldn’t quite articulate.  We can’t always pinpoint what it is that draws us to things.  Sometimes their importance is just visceral.  And I honestly don’t know why I picked that postcard to send her, over something more stereotypical, like a rocket on a launch pad or an astronaut in a moonscape.  It was probably the bright colors against the black that might have been easier for her to see.  Whatever the case, it’s with her now and it makes me feel good in all kinds of ways.

I haven’t really thought about it for myself but is there anything you want to take with you?  If there is, make sure the ones closest to you know or leave instructions so they can fulfill your last wishes.  It helped my heart to know The Mom got exactly what she wanted.

PS-There are plenty of books out there to help organize and leave info for your loved ones. Just glancing through Amazon, my favorite had to be Yup, I’m Dead… Now What?, featuring a graphic of cartoon feet on a morgue slab, complete with toe tag!

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