Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Dearest Cecily

It's been the longest week ever.

This may be a little disjointed and possibly out of order but here we go....

This time last week (3:59 PM, when I started this post) I was on my final stretch to White Salmon, Washington.

The evening of the 20th I was in communication with my friend, Cecily's sister,
Courtney.   I wanted to visit Cecily over the weekend.  Tentatively heading out Christmas day.  Courtney just informed me that Cecily had experienced a pulmonary embolism and they weren't sure she'd last that long.  I asked if there was a chance I could come see her right away.  She said she'd talk to Cecily and get back to me.  

I was a mess.  So much of my experiences with death (and there have been plenty) has included me not being able to say goodbye.  If I could prevent it from happening with my dear friend, Cecily, I wanted that.  I wanted to be able to hold her hand and tell her how much she means to me.  How my life is richer because she's in it.  How much I value her and am grateful that she has been in my life.  How she has supported me through so many things and how I wanted to be able to support her as well.

Courtney got back to me the following morning saying that she seemed to be doing much better and would like to see me.  I did not hesitate.  I threw some clothes in a bag, grabbed my pillow and headed out.  I stopped by my apartment on my way down (I've been house sitting in Bothell).  Grabbed a sleeping bag with sleep pad and carried on down south.  Lots of listening to "Game of Thrones" on the way down and a quick bite at Burgerville (I couldn't believe Sean and Courtney hadn't heard of them!).

I finally arrived at about 4:30.  There is a main house, a small cabin where Cecily was staying, and one cabin, smaller yet, where Courtney stays.  I stopped by the main house first so I could rest my room.  Then I headed in to see Cecily.  She was fast asleep with her Comfort Goat (long story) at her feet.  Her mother was in the room.  I settled in and started knitting a hat I had been working on for her.  The softest rusty orange alpaca.  Grumperina pattern.  

Eventually she woke up and she groggily looked at me.  She smiled and told me she
was really glad I was there.  She said she very much liked the cards I'd been sending her.  She ate a bit and drifted off to sleep.  She woke up a few times, briefly, throughout the evening.  At one point I touched her hand.  She opened her eyes, looked at me, recognized me, looked down to her hand, held my hand.  She rubbed my hand with her thumb.  I was just overwhelmed with love for this amazing woman.  I stole a picture feeling weirdly conspicuous.  But I'm glad I did.

I stayed up pretty late talking with Courtney.  I really enjoyed getting to know her more.  We had both light and more serious conversations until the wee hours.  Courtney let me sleep in her cabin while she camped out with Cec.

The next morning I spent more time in the house.  I hung out with B, a close family friend (and fellow Tacoma resident).  She gave me some tasty beef bone broth and was making a giant pot of soup (wtih chicken bone broth).  We had a lot of great conversation.  I also got to chat a bit with Cecily's girls.  I went back into the cabin to visit with Cecily.

It's funny, I have a bit of more detail about everything that happened while I was there but the idea of sharing it feels strange. By all means, ask me more over a cup of coffee or tea.  I'll likely tell you more.  But Cecily is a rather private lady and I want to respect it.  So I'll just sort of give you some brief gists.

A couple times over she would wake up, kind of look around, make eye contact with me and smile.  I did some energy work on her.  Grounding, clearing blockages, pulling up and giving her white gold energy.  At one point she whispered, "I like that."  I worked on a few more places and was pleasantly surprised when I felt that her heart energy was strong and brilliant.  I told her this.  I asked if she felt it.  She sounded sad when she said, "No."  I assured her in the most confident yet gentle voice I could, "Well, trust me.  I promise.  It's strong."  Of course it makes sense to me.  She has never been anything but strong in heart.  Loving, passionate.  Heart energy she had in spades.  We concluded.  I believe other family moved in to visit and I went back in the main house.  Eating soup.  Getting to know her family.  Very precious.

All this time Courtney and Cecily's husband Sean were working together to figure out how to keep her comfortable and honor her preferences.  The love was there in spades.

That night, before I headed off to bed I said, "Honey," she then woke up, which surprised me, as she was both fairly sedated and seemed fast asleep, "I'm going to head to bed now.  I'll see you in the morning.  Let me give you a hug."  She surprised me when she hugged me back.  It was wonderful.

The next day, Friday, I came in and she was struggling with taking her meds.  I did more energy work, with her permission.  Then she took them.  Not analyzing whether or not it was a coinsidence.  I was just happy that she got her pain relief in her.  I sat with her, her mom and Sean in the room.  I was sitting there thinking about how quiet it was and how there were times she was in and out of consciousness and I thought it must be boring when you're awake and no one is saying anything.  So I first told her about how I woke up to snow and I told her how beautiful it was.  How peaceful.  This made her smile.  I started talking about her girls, and how when they were little they were so shy.  But how I wanted them to approach me in their own time.  I told her how I admired her respect for their autonomy.  I said how I feel she's such an amazing mother.  I told her how the girls were opening up with me now.  I talked about Marshall.  I asked if she wanted me to stop talking.  She shook her head no.  I talked a bit more about Marsh.  Then I got all serious and talked about how I never got to say goodbye to Tony, Sarah or Jen.  How I didin't know what it meant to say goodbye when my dad died.  And how it was very healing to be able to be there for her.  I teared up.  But then I talked about the snow that was falling outside at that very moment.  Eventually I sat quietly again when it was obvious that she was falling asleep fairly deeply again.  It was time for her family to come in to visit with her.  

This whole time I was battling a caffeine headache that regular coffee was not really helping.  I decided to trek down to Hood River to get some starbucks. I even got a little extra to stick in the fridge for the next day.  When I got back apparently the nurse had been there.  Sean took me aside and said that the nurse was giving her 24-36 hours.  He said that he would like it to be just family in her last hours.  I thanked him for letting me know (I prize honest conversation).  I told him I totally understand.  I asked when he would prefer I head out. He said I could sit with her later that evening and then in the morning I could say goodbye (it was already dark and with the temps dropping it made sense to stay the night again).  Sounded like a solid plan.  

I never did get back in that night.  The rest of the evening was spent with her family, more specifically, her daughters.  The way it should be.  I also got to spend some time with Ava (her youngest) and Sean's mother.  We played Sorry.  It was fun.  Eventually everyone went to bed.  Sean stayed with Cecily.  

I woke up and just sort of drifted in and out of sleep until I heard Courtney come in.  So I figured it was a good time to start packing up.  I'll spare too many details but Courtney said I could go in to say goodbye but to come back into the house before I head out so we could have our goodbyes as well.  

When I came up to the cabin Sean told me she had already passed.  I let him know I could head right out.  He invited me in to sit with her.  He and Courtney gave me a moment.  He opened her door on the way out, so that her spirit could leave.  It's a beautiful tradition and I thought was so very lovely.  I sat beside her.  I held her hand.  I could feel her spirit gone but her body was still buzzing with Cecily energy.  It makes sense.  It was her human suit for nearly four decades.  I sat there quietly.  Then I cried.  I said goodbye.

When I walked out I hugged Sean and told him to please lean on her community, to tell me if I can do anything to support him and the girls.  He asked that I not leave until I felt okay to drive (emotions + icy roads = extra caution needed).  I took his advice.  I made one more run to the bathroom.  I hugged Courtney.  I left.

I didn't finish the hat.

As I started down the mountain I paused.  I needed a song.  This is what came to me..


Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free
Blackbird fly blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night
Blackbird fly blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
I listened to it about 2-3-20 times.  I sat for a moment.  Then I cried.  A lot.  And being that I was driving I thought it wise to pull over. The very next exit was the exit for Multnomah Falls.  Here is a picture.

I got home.  I checked the mail.  I got back in my car.   I headed back up to Bothell. I tried to be present for my Aunt's annual Christmas Eve celebration with Marsh in tow.  I didn't last long and we headed back to Bothell.

I'm grateful for the time I was able to spend with Cecily.  The time I shared with her was valuable more than words can express.

And sweet, Cecily.  She is already missed.

Perhaps I'll write more about Cecily's life and our friendship.  It's likely far more interesting than her passing.  It's sure a lot more cheery and I'm sure how she'd want to be remembered the most.  I know it's how I choose to think of her.  Like that first picture. Beautiful girl, beautiful smile, beautiful heart.


Coralee Kulman said...

Beautiful, Johanna. It is so precious to save those moments in writing.

Trixy Kackle said...

please do tell us more about your experiences with her! I would love to read it.

Monisha said...

I sorry for your lose but I am so glad that you got to provide comfort to your friend as her energy transitioned. I know you will carry your friend with you always, that is the beauty of friendship. Send you <3 my friend.