Friday, September 16, 2011

A Good Day to Die

Hearing that someone you love is about to die is never easy. It's even more difficult when you're 12,000 miles away and can't get there to say goodbye. There's an overwhelming desire to just see that person one more time.  You cast your mind back to when you last saw them. What did you talk about? Was there laughter? Laughter's good. Did you leave on good terms? Did you wave? A wave is treasured.

Nellie is my aunt. A very close aunt, despite the fact that we live 12,000 miles apart for much of the year. She has no children of her own but lots of nephews and nieces whom she always spoilt rotten when we were little. She's just coming up to her 90th birthday, but I don't think she's going to make it. Last night I received a phone call from my cousin to say that the doctors thought Nellie might only have 24 hours left. They were just going to make her comfortable. Nellie is frightened of dying. I know she is. And especially of dying alone. She's not very good with pain either. I need to tell them this. I need them to know that she won't like it if they close the curtains. That she'll like the television on, even if the sound is off. And she likes her hair brushed... get someone to do that for her. Hold her hand. And let her keep her teeth in, because she hates to be seen without them. She'll want to look presentable. She was always very clothes conscious. And remember, hold her hand.

All my cousins will be with her. She won't be alone, I'm sure. But I should be there. Instead I'm here, 12,000 miles from where I'm needed. I should be the one holding her hand. I'm the oldest niece. I was four when I went to her wedding. She was the aunt who was always laughing. And nothing made her happier than to be surrounded by nieces and nephews. She loved us all.

So now I'm just waiting for another phone call. I can't do anything else from this distance. I'm hoping she'll just drift away... isn't that what we all want? I hope the sun will shine; that she'll gaze out of the window at the clouds floating by and think to herself, yes... this is a good day to die. But I know from experience that it doesn't always work out that way. So now I'm just sitting. Looking at old photographs, remembering happy times. And waiting for the phone call...



  1. So sorry to hear this sad news. There's nothing I can say to make it feel any easier. As you know my mother died in April and I'm still trying hard to remember the good times, the laughter, the time spent together. I can only remember those last few days holding her hand and watching her go. I had to be there for her but I wish I could forget that bit and grab hold of those earlier memories... the good ones. Keep remembering the good times.

  2. Thanks Rosalind. As we get older, these occasions seem to become more frequent. Another stage of our development,

  3. That's a beautiful photograph of your Aunt.

  4. Ellen Heatley Bevitt died peacefully, 22nd September, surrounded by her loved ones.

  5. Sadly you're right. I'm so sorry to see that your Aunt has passed away. There are no words that I can say to ease the pain.

    I'm sorry to be frivolous at a time like this but I've given you a brand new award. It's waiting for you on my blog. It’s a ‘thank you’ type of award but I'll understand if you want to defer it until another time.