It’s been 3 1/2 weeks since my Mother-in-Law passed away and (finally) today, would be the day of her funeral service.
We drove up early so that we could go to the Funeral Home and say our final goodbye, before the official funeral service at the crematorium.
The Funeral Home was a tiny store front, with an even smaller reception area. The Funeral Director was surprised to see us, as we were apparently supposed to have “confirmed” our visit beforehand and of course, we hadn’t. I wasn’t sure why this was necessary or expected… I mean it wasn’t like Mum was going anywhere, right!
We were led into a tiny, closet of a room just off the reception area, that was just big enough for Mum and one small chair.
We walked in pensively and there she was… my lovely, kind, funny, sometimes opinionated Mother-in-Law, beautifully laid out in the navy blue suit we had bought her for Dad’s funeral, several years ago. She looked much younger than she did a few weeks ago, as all the wrinkles and worries, aches and pains were gone. She was finally free and at peace.
Nick and I talked for few minutes about how good she looked and about how, although we would miss her dearly, we were happy to know that she was no longer suffering. He stroked her hair and fixed her necklace and we watched her closely… half waiting for her to open her eyes.
After several minutes we looked at each other and decided it was time to leave her in peace… I bent down, whispered in her ear how very thankful I was to have had her as my Mother-in-Law and how much I appreciated her love, kindness, and generosity over the years. Then, as I have a thousand times before, I planted a big, bright, red lipstick kiss on her forehead. I smiled through my tears, because I knew this kiss was special… this kiss would go with her, into eternity.
As we drove to my sister-in-laws house, where Mum would arrive to meet us all shortly, I couldn’t help thinking about that bright, red kiss mark I had left on the side of her forehead.
I imagined her on her long journey, meeting old friends and family members, who had gone before her. They’d definitely be there, because they would have known she was coming and everyone would be excited to be seeing her, after such a long time. They’d each their turn to greet her, hug and kiss her and they’d all reassure her that everything was going to be alright.
I giggled to myself, as I pictured them all looking at her forehead ever so strangely, wondering, “What on earth?”
What on earth, indeed!
I imagined Mum confused by the looks on all their faces, but she was too tired by her journey to ask about it and besides, she had to find Chalky.
I watched as she walked slowly up a beautiful green hill, covered with wildflowers. Each flower a more beautiful shade of purple than the one beside it. There were dots of pink, yellow, red and orange as well, but from her vantage point all she could see, looking up the hill, was a carpet of purple.
She reached the top of the hill and was quite surprised to look down and see a perfectly manicured rugby pitch!
The sun was shinning and warm on her face and she noticed the perfectly blue sky was filled with those big, white puffy clouds that look like giant marshmallows. Just as she started to let herself get lost in that big, amazing sky… she saw someone.
“Who’s that?” she thought.
It was an old, but young, white haired gentlemen, walking towards her from the other side of the pitch. The journey had disoriented her, but in an instant she knew it was him and she knew he had come to take her home.
As they met in the middle of the pitch, he embraced her and then stepped back to look into her eyes… Just as he was about to say something to her he was distracted by something on the side of her head.
“What’s this? he asked, bemused.
At first she had no idea what he was talking about, but then she started to think back… “Hmmm, what’s the last thing I remember? Her brain started to race… “I was resting on some kind of bed… why was it so narrow and uncomfortable? Oh, no matter. I felt like I was waiting for something, like an event of some kind. It was dark, very cool and quiet. I remember feeling the presence of two people walking into the room… and as they came close I felt an overwhelming sense of love, emanating from both of them! It was especially strong from the man… or was it a boy? I could tell he was sad and there was a tender boy-like loneliness about him that made me want to scoop him up, hug him and tell him, “Everything is going to be alright.”
The woman, wore bright red lipstick and there were tears running down her face. Oddly, she was smiling at the same time. She came very close, whispered something in my ear and then gave me the most tender, loving kiss on my forehead. There was a sadness to her kiss, but I just can’t seem to remember why…. How odd.”
Back in the moment she realized that he was gently rubbing her face, trying unsuccessfully, to wipe off the red mark, but after a few seconds they both readily resigned to the fact that it was there to stay. He looked gently into her eyes, took her hand and they started to walk away in silence.
As the car stopped, I realized we had only just arrived at my sister-in-laws house. The long and what would be, very emotional day was actually just beginning. It was going to be a hard day for everyone, but I was comforted by the fact that I had already been to heaven and back and knew that everything was going to be alright.
Just like Mum, we would all be alright.