12/28/2006

Saying Goodbye to Cookie

I went to see Cookie one last time tonight. The family had visitation at the funeral home, which in this case meant a viewing of the body as well as expressing condolences to the family.

When I am dead- note to family- no viewing. What are you thinking people? I'm dead. It's not like I'm going to suddenly sit up and talk or anything! Furthermore, I don't want a bunch of people standing around saying things like "Doesn't she look good?" or "She just doesn't quite look like herself, does she?"

Well, duh! I'm dead. There is no more looking like myself or looking "good." What is that?!

But I digress.

I was visiting Cookie- but from the other side. She is now "over there" while I am still here, visiting the family I had until now, only seen in pictures pinned to the wall in her nursing home room.

I knew them all instantly and the weird thing was they didn't know me. I was their mother's friend, the one whose name Cookie couldn't remember, the one who listened to her fears and feelings, the one who held her hand when no one else was around.

In a way, it was like walking into a home movie and sharing a secret joke with Cookie.

Her daughter knew me by name, held my hand and said she knew how much I'd meant to her mother. She said everyone at the nursing home had been so good to her mom. I wondered which nursing home she thought her mother was in because it sure wasn't the one I know!

Her son said Cookie died very peacefully. He said he and his sister were sitting in her hospital room with her when he noticed her heart rate slipping lower and lower, only to rally a bit before sinking again. "I kissed her forehead and I said 'Mama, I know you're tired. It's alright to go now.'"

A few moments later, Cookie let go.

I looked around the room at all the familiar faces, feeling as if I knew them so well and yet not at all. No one was crying. After all, Cookie was 93. She'd lived a long, long life and she was much loved.

I walked over to the casket and looked down at my dear friend one last time...until I heard the echo of my Unnamed Ones saying "You know they fill their mouths with foam and sew them shut. There's makeup on their faces and hands. Sometimes they even dye their hair."

Cookie's cheeks were just a bit too full, her bruised hands a bit too thick with pancake foundation. The tie we had here in this dimension broke free in that moment and I had to let go of my earthly image of Cookie. She has gone- maybe back to where she came from, in one form or another. Perhaps her energy lingers in some way near those of us who loved her. I just don't know.

But wherever she is, I hope she gets to say hello to Dad. I took him to meet her one time and she liked him just swell- which was perfect, considering their specialness in my world.

I hope whatever continues on after we lose our bodies meets up with whatever's become of him and they swirl like invisible autumn leaves around me as I make my way on down the path without them.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Actually, this pretty much sums up how I feel about open caskets at funerals. However, most don't agree with me. Glad to find a kindred spirit (no pun intended, cause we're not there yet). ~Margo

Sheria said...

I do so agree with your position on the open casket. However, I'm resigned to the notion that there is little likelihood that my wishes will be honored at the wake. Southerners have long tradition of staring at the dead and as I will be unable to tell them to cease and desist, it is inevitable that I will be on display. I'd love to be able to sit up and politely say, "boo!"
Sheria