“Is Mom Gone?”

I got a message from Amanda that Dad was having a “rough time” and headed over there to check up on him.

He was sitting at the kitchen table, finishing breakfast when I got there. I rested my hand on his back and he looked over at me and smiled. I held his hand and he brought my hand to his lips and kissed it. Then I brought his hand to my lips and kissed it. He smiled again.
Dad: How’s Mom?
Karen: She’s fine.
Dad: Where is she now… is she (mumbling)…?
Karen: (Thinking how I should answer this question. Finally…) Daddy, Mom passed on two years ago. (I feel I should say this – I feel like he needs to know…) She’s waiting for you when that time comes.
Dad: (Nods and looks down at his plate. I’m not sure he heard or understood. I wait.) Where are Peter and David?
Karen: Pete’s in Hoodsport – on the peninsula. Dave’s in Olympia. They’re both doing great. Pete came and saw you a couple days ago. You watched football together. Dave’s coming up this weekend.
Dad: (Nods.)
Karen: They both love you very much.
Dad: (Nods.)
Karen: And I love you, too.
(Dad looks up at me and smiles.)
Karen: Looks like you’ve been eating an avocado.
Dad: Yeah. This was a rich one.
Karen: (I lean over so my mouth is next to his ear, and start singing a hymn I know he’s familiar with..) “In heavenly Love abiding, no change my heart shall fear, and safe is such confiding, for nothing changes here…” and “O dreamer, leave thy dreams for joyful waking!…”
(Then we sit quietly for maybe ten minutes, or twenty – I lose track of time. I don’t feel the need to say or do anything. We’re just together. He’s starting to nod off now. His head drooping towards the table…)
Karen: Do you want to go sit in the recliner in front of the television and take a nap?
Dad: (Looks up at me and nods.) Yeah.
(Dad is in a wheelchair today – he’s having a hard time standing or walking – so Dietrich pushes him in the wheelchair over to a recliner and helps lift him into the chair. Amanda and Dietrich cover Dad with a blanket and get him comfortable.)
Karen: Are you comfortable?
Dad: Yeah.
Karen: I love you.
Dad: I love you. (Thinking.) Is Mom gone?
Karen: Yeah. But I feel her presence with me all the time. And I know she’s waiting for you when you’re ready to join her.
Dad: (Nods. And this time I know he understands.)

I wave to him and blow him a kiss. And he waves back and gives me a sleepy smile.

Two Years Ago Today…

Two years ago today Moz was brought to our home for hospice care. Two years ago, around 9:30 pm, she spoke her last word to me – with a happy smile – “Okay.” She passed in the early morning hours of February 21st while I slept on the couch next to her bed.

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: God’s thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect; the inspiration of goodness, purity, and immortality, counteracting all evil, sensuality, and mortality”
– Mary Baker Eddy

Butterfly on Table Mountain

An alpine butterfly flits among the flowers on Table Mountain. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

The Balcony Where You Used to Wave

I pick up your mail at the retirement inn –
it still comes there nearly two years after
your passing – almost entirely requests
from charities – veterans, environmental
groups, help for homeless people and
animals – and I see your name on the
envelopes and remember your generous
heart and I smile. As I get in the car I glance
back to the balcony where you used to wave
good bye to me and I feel a tug on my heart.
You’re still there. I can see you clearly, smiling
your love at me from the second floor.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Lilly’s Human

I met her pet bunny on the boardwalk.
She’d named her Lilly and put a pink collar
around her neck. Lilly nestled in between
my feet for a bit, and then I crouched down
to pet her fur. Lilly was velvety-soft
and I’m pretty sure she was smiling.
Her human was a young woman
and I’m guessing she had “special needs” –
there was a happy innocence in her words
and a sweet, healthy pride in her care of Lilly.

As I continued on my walk I started
to wonder how long bunnies generally
live. A few years? A decade?
And I felt myself feeling sad for the pain
Lilly’s human might feel one day
when Lilly dies. But then it occurred
to me – having just survived a year
in which death seemed to come
every month to someone around me –
that Lilly’s human might learn
that death can’t stop Love. Lilly’s
human might learn that death really
has no power to separate us
from those we hold dear.

And I realized I didn’t need to worry
about Lilly’s human and she’d didn’t need
to be protected from pain.
Life offers us precious lessons
about the eternal.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Christmas: All Things New

“…Behold, I make all things new.”
– II Corinthians 5

I wasn’t sure what this Christmas would be like for us. Moz is gone now. Dad has been in and out of hospice twice since her passing. A lot of people who were dear to me are no longer here. It has been a challenging year. I wondered if we might feel holes in our Christmas. But this weekend has been precious.

Scotty, the sons, my youngest brother, niece, nephew, and special friends, Sierra and Michael, came together for caroling through the neighborhood, a rousing game of “spoons” around the kitchen table, some improv in the family room, brunch at Skylark’s, a walk along the boardwalk in Bellingham, and precious time with Dad. There were moments when I laughed so hard I had tears running down my face. There were tender moments that filled my heart. It was magic!

I think losing so many dear ones this year has made me appreciate all the more the time we have to spend with those we love.

Snippets –
(On our neighborhood caroling adventure)
Oldest son: I think we totally crushed Joy to the World. We nailed that one, don’t you think?

Dad to youngest son: Are you still running?
Youngest son: Yeah (nods his head and gives the thumbs up).
Dad to youngest son: This is beautiful country. Do you like living in the desert?
Youngest son: (none of us are in the desert, but Xander doesn’t miss a beat…) Yes. (And he gives the thumbs up.)

After I’ve taken Dad back to his home.
Karen: Merry Christmas, Daddy!
Dad: Thank you, sweetie! (Dad hasn’t called me “sweetie” for a long time and his use of the term really touches me.)
Karen: Good bye.
Dad: Good bye.
Karen: I love you.
Dad: I love you!

Merry Christmas, my friends!
Karen

“Each successive stage of experience unfolds new views of divine goodness and love.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

A New Christmas

Endings that are new to me
this Christmas.
Beginnings that are new to me, too.
I miss Moz. I grin as I watch Sparky
the new kitty scamper around
the Christmas tree, chasing
his big sister, Clara – experiencing
his first Christmas. I decide
to make cookies, open up my recipe
book, find the recipe for boiled
cookies and see it written in Moz’s
handwriting. I’d forgotten
she’d given me that recipe.
Moz never got to meet Sparky.
He never got to meet Moz.
But they both celebrate Christmas
in this house  – one in the past,
one in the present.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Sparky's First Christmas

Address Book at Christmas

Flipping through my address book – 
getting my Christmas cards ready to send – 
your name pops out, and it gives me a jolt.
You died last month, but your name
lives on in black ink on a lined page
in my address book. And I want to send
you something – but you’re not there
to receive your mail. 
– Karen Molenaar Terrell