I struggled with what to write about my visit with Kathleen, torn between wanting to get out what it was really like and what I actually wanted to remember.
It was hard, the visit, but not as hard as I thought it would be. Physically, it was excruciating. She was a skeleton, a ghost of her former self. When I saw just how much she had changed in the few months since I'd seen her last my heart ached. My god, I thought, look what cancer has done to her. It has stolen her beauty and vivacity completely. But at times, little glimpses of her were still there.
She is exhausted, but outwardly at peace. I can't fathom what's going on in her head, but throughout her visit she was calming and comforting all those around her. Til the very end, she will be reassuring all who are so deeply saddened by her illness that it is okay, that everything will be okay. She is frustrated because now that the cancer has spread to her brain, she has lost a lot of herself. But her beautiful spirit remains intact. Her grace remains, and for that, as she has said so many times, we say, Glory Be.
The calmness that radiated from her soothed us all. We talked and sang, and she spoke of how she wanted her funeral to be. I held her niece's baby and buried my face against his when the tears came. We watched her beautiful four year old boy bounce around the living room, somewhat happily oblivious, but enough in the know that it was almost painful to see. As it became time for us to go, she held us all and repeated again and again how much she loved us. No tears fell from her sad eyes but they fell abundantly from ours. Yet there was a peace about everyone, a peace that only she could have passed on to us. As I prepared to hug her for a final time in this life, I felt so peaceful. Devastated, but at peace.
I wanted her to preach at my wedding someday. I wanted her to baptize my babies. This won't happen, but for all of eternity I will have the memories of an amazing woman to pass along to my children.