The eight days of last week were pretty long. If you saw the last "Hey, God? Yes, Charles." post, you know that a dear friend, Bettye, whose fingerprints are all over the book, died Saturday a week ago. Another blog back in December describes Aunt Shirley and me in the emergency room where I worried about her while she worried about pants. She died this past Saturday.
Each of these women, both widowed before I was, influenced my life in profound and different ways over the years. Bettye was diagnosed with cancer about two years ago. She fought it hard, with grace and grit all the way, providing inspiration and exhibiting courage. By all accounts, she kept the faith, and her faith, but never gave up, never accepted the word terminal. She was ready for another day and another day.
Around the time Bettye was getting her diagnosis, we learned that Aunt Shirley had a serious heart condition. In the past two years, new docs and drugs invaded her life. That trip to the ER on December 9 turned out to be a point of no return and the first of six moves over the next five weeks trying to get her in the right place for the best medical care. Finally, as her condition continued to worsen, she told us all, "I'm done." No more bags on poles. No more meds. No more procedures. So we removed the poles and the meds except for comfort drugs and we stopped all the procedures. Thanks to a different kind of courage, she was able to rest, float in and out without pain, and enjoy visitors the last days of her life. At one point she looked up and said, "I see you." Aunt Shirley lived on her own terms. Now she was ready spiritually, mentally, and physically to die on them too. And so, on Saturday, she did.
We've always been taught that there is a right way to live. Two grande dames just taught me that, for them, there is also no wrong way to die.