Tuesdays at the Nursing Home- A Yellow Post-It Note Labeled "Bertha"

            I would like to think Heaven has walls.  Not a total enclosure but perhaps just an entryway to hold up the Pearly Gates. A firm buttress of granite held in place with mortar- because mortar is fallible and granite is not.  Mortar slowly erodes, like we humans do over time, only maybe Heaven’s crumbling wall could allow a few, bright beams of golden light to slip out, so those of us still waiting down here might have hope in times of darkness.
I'd also like to add a small pad of Post-It notes and a pen, lying on a wooden stand beside the wall. This is where you’d go to tag and store the pieces of your heart when they broke off. Here, between the rock and the bits of crumbling sand, you’d wedge your tender losses tight and walk away.
            Maybe goodbyes would be easier to take and love easier to give, if we knew for certain it was never wasted.  If our hurts and losses were named on folded squares of paper and basked in a golden light on one side, while keeping darkness at bay on the other, wouldn't we feel better?
            If this were true, I would walk up to the wall tonight, rip off a yellow square and write Bertha’s name in bold, red letters. “Here, God,” I’d say, shoving my note deep inside an especially shiny chink. “This it the part of me that didn’t want to let her go. The selfish bit that wanted more time to laugh and hold on and hear what it was like to grow up in the country almost 80 years ago.  Here’s the woman who helped me more than I ever helped her. Here’s a whole big wing of the house that is my heart.  I’d like to have it back someday. I’d like to have all the pieces back, along with a giant bottle of Gorilla Glue.”
            Bertha used to tell me “God’s not through with me yet. I’ll know when He is.” She worried her almost 50 year old son couldn’t take care of himself and that her husband wouldn’t live long without her.  She wanted to know her daughter’s cancer was in remission.  She wrote a hymn to comfort her family and made me promise to sing it at her funeral.  Bertha gave and gave and gave. 
            And while I know she had cancer, I prefer to think Bertha’s heart quit beating not because of sickness or old age but because she finally gave every piece of it away.



Anna Gentry said...

This is so beautifully written Nancy. I got lost in the imagery and detail, wonderful read!

Steve R said...

This is awesome. I'm sorry that your friend is gone. I know you cared for tremendously. While I read it I was reminded of the conversations you and I had about her from time to time. From the joy on your face, it was evident that she did give a lot to your life. You undoubtedly gave a lot to her simply by visiting her. Isn’t it funny how much we receive by simply giving. Still, this doesn't ease the pain of our hearts when that persons gone. You've been blessed by her friendship. Now we have been blessed by your sharing. Thank you to the both of you.

Nancy said...

Thanks, Steve. Bertha was truly a blessing!