Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Heading Home

Bea has another sleepy day. Neither food nor drink seems to interest her. The room remains cool despite the mugginess outside. I close all the windows at 7 am. It is a day to be in. So, I busy myself with household chores and check on Bea from time to time.

I happen to be puttering around her room when suddenly she says with great wonder, “I saw my father.”

“What was he doing?”

“Looking at me. It was a long time ago. In Belleville.”

I give her a kiss and caress her brow.

“What a lovely person you are. Thank you, God!”

I leave the room and, upon my return, hear Bea talking in a very soft voice: “How do you know I’m going home?”

“To Belleville?” I ask, interrupting the conversation.

“To my mother and my father, the people I want to see.”

Later, Bea declares with that same delicious softness, “I see joy.”

“What did you say?”

“I see joy when I see my family. You are my family. I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

“There’s a bell ringing in my heart.”

“A bell? What kind of bell?”

“Joy.”

And still later, Bea opens her eyes and says, “It’s you I love. You’re my daughter. And I’m soon going to be home. A happy day.” There is pure rapture on her face. “They’re going to take me home. And you’ll be there, too.”

“Later?”

“Yes, later.”

I get the feeling that Bea may leave us at any minute. I have an impulse to call my brother and children, but that’s silly, precipitous. There is no indication she is going to die. A few days ago Nurse Jane pronounced her as well as one can be at 96 ½.

“I’m ready to go now. They are there,” she says and reaches for my hand, still smiling that rapturous smile. “You, I love. Now I can go to sleep. We were glad to be here, with you. I’m going home, I’m going home, I’m going home ….”

Bea has her bags packed. She is ready to go, heading home.

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