Her Last Word Was “Okay”

Her whole face was beaming
and she smiled up at me with joy.
She had that look that you get
when you’re anticipating a party
with old friends.
Her last word to me was “Okay.”
Said without reservation or reluctance.
I didn’t understand at the time. Didn’t
know that would be her last word.
I’d just told her Scott would watch over her
for the next few hours, and then I’d be back
down to be with her through the night. I’d
just told her she wasn’t going to be alone –
that we’d take care of her. And her eyes
were filled with joy and love. “Okay,” she said,
with that smiling joy. And then I went to sleep
for a couple hours. When I came back down
she was sleeping on her hospital bed,
and I laid down on the couch next to her. I
got up at 12:48 to give her the medication.
Then again an hour later. (I wrote the times
on a napkin so I wouldn’t forget.) I woke up
again an hour later after a waking dream filled
with joy and peace and the brush of angel wings.
There was no struggling now. It took me a while
to realize she was gone.
But her last word to me was, “Okay.”
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Throughout the Day

Throughout the day we told each other
of our love. And I’ll always remember
those words. But the most profound
moment didn’t come with a word at all.
It was the expression in her eyes
when she didn’t have the strength
to speak. I asked her one more time
– because I was greedy that last day –
“You love me, don’t you?”
And for a moment everything else
blurred into the background, but
the love in her eyes – focused on mine,
pure and powerful and true.
And now in my moments of doubt
the look in her eyes comes back to me,
and I feel her mother-love still with me.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Pretending Death

I lay in bed, pretending to be dead,
not playing dead, but imagining dead.
Eyes closed. Breathing stopped. Mind blank.
Body stilled.
Is this what it feels like? I wondered.
And I wasn’t being melancholy
or morose or macabre.
I wasn’t wishing myself dead
I was just curious.
Is death just an eternal nothing?
And if it is, I reasoned, then
our time here is so short – so much to do,
so many to love, and so little time.
And the idea of that – so little time
to love – made no sense
to me.  How could Love ever end?
And I opened my eyes. Took a deep breath.
Got back to living.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

The Brush of Angel Wings

The end was like the beginning –
the oxygen machine breathing,
making the sound of the womb,
a soothing rhythm in the room
as she slept on the bed next to me.
All is quiet, but for the pumping
of O through her mask. In my dreams
I feel the light brush of angel wings
and fear is replaced by freedom
and limitless joy that comes,
through an opened heavenly portal.
I open my eyes to see the battle
over and done. She has won.
I rise and stand on holy ground.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“Angels are not etherealized human beings, evolving animal qualities in their wings; but they are celestial visitants, flying on spiritual, not material, pinions. Angels are pure thoughts from God, winged with Truth and Love… ”
– Mary Baker Eddy

“Daddy, Mom passed on peacefully…”

Update on Dad:
I stopped in to see Dad this morning and he asked how Mom was. (Yesterday he’d asked if she was back east. He’d said he hoped she didn’t think he’d abandoned her.) I told him fine. He looked at me, skeptically, and said, “It feels like people aren’t giving me a straight answer to this question.” He is very sharp. At that point it was impossible to lie to him, so I got close to his ear and told him Mom had passed. He asked me what I’d said. I told him I loved him and hugged him and left.

I came back later with a new pair of pants for him. Mary from The Mountaineers was there and Dad was busy at the dining room table drawing a picture of Rainier on some watercolor paper she’d brought him. He asked how Mom was. I told him fine. I asked him how he was and he said he’d be happier if he knew how Mom was. I asked him if he’d like me to write him a note about Mom and he nodded his head yes. I wrote something like this:

“Daddy, Mom passed on peacefully in her sleep at my house last week. She loved you very much. She still loves you. She knows you love her, too. We all love you, Daddy. You’re not alone. We’re all here for you.”

He asked how “the boys” were doing. I said the boys were doing fine and wanted him to be happy.

I wrote to him that he had been able to see Mom before they brought her to my house. I told him an attendant had wheeled him up to Mom’s room so he could say good-bye. The attendant said it was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen.

Mary and I were hugging him and he was holding my hand. I found a paper napkin and dabbed tears off the end of his nose. He asked if Mom had died in pain, and I said no, she’d died peacefully at my house. I’d been sleeping next to her. He wanted to know what she’d died of, and I told him her heart had gotten tired and stopped.

I told him about the memorial celebration for her, and he nodded his head that he wanted to come.

I asked him what I could do to help, what he wanted to do. He said he wanted to go to bed. So Mary and I helped him get back to his room. He told me he loved me before I left.

I think he might ask again – and I think we’re going to have to continue to be truthful with him, and help him get through this. He won’t let us not tell him the truth. He is very brave.


I Just Want Her to be Happy

I took the kitty in to be spayed –
this is the bouncing-off-the-furniture cat
the climbing-the-windows cat
the gymnastical flipping cat
and the vet said she had
a heart murmur.

Tests could be performed.
EKG.  Ultrasound.

And I thought about this.
Do I really want my kitty to spend
her short kitty-life in and out of
vet’s offices, sedated, drugged,
surrounded by fear?

I just want my cat to be happy.

So I said no to the procedures
and brought her home. Where we
are struggling to keep her from bouncing
off the walls long enough for her
to heal from her spaying.

I am not going to invest any more time
or emotion in speculation and diagnoses
of this thing or that thing, fatal
possibilities for my cat (or myself
or my world).
I refuse to be impressed with death
or live in fear of disease and loss –
like death is the worst thing and
long life is always the goal.

I want more
than long life for my cat.
I want her to be fear-free.
I want her to know love.

I just want her to be happy.

– Karen Molenaar Terrell


Good Remains

In Science, individual good derived from God, the infinite All-in-all, may flow from the departed to mortals…
– Mary Baker Eddy

Sitting in a restaurant, listening to the music piping
into the space from a radio station playing “classic rock”
and Fogelberg’s voice enters, singing “Longer”
sweetly, gently, a lullabye to love – and the voice is alive
and vibrant, waves through the universe from a man
no longer walking on this planet – no longer breathing,
heart no longer pumping – yet his voice is with us still
touching, eliciting, evoking, reaching out
through the years and miles – through time and space.
Exposing death as the lie it is. Good remains.

never separated from love