To Grandma As She Crosses the Rainbow Bridge

My grandmother died days after Tobias came home from the hospital. It is incredible how events like death can become supporting details when so many major life shifts happen at once. 

She transitioned from body to pure spirit when no one was looking at her, in the brief moment between blinks when attention turned elsewhere and she was unobserved. 

I sat with her for several hours, holding space and vigil in the days leading up to and the day of her passing. 

There is power in this liminal space, watching a soul between worlds…partially in the body yet moving toward the non-physical realm. Her breath was audible and flowed through her open mouth, her eyes half open and half closed…as though she watched a show meant for her alone.

And yet, it is a show we all face at some point in these bodies-perhaps there will be time to prepare, but it often plays without a minute’s notice to gather your popcorn and put your affairs in order.  

The power of death lies in its universality and inevitability. At some point, everyone is going to experience it, whether in their bodies or their loved ones'.

It feels like death is a companion I have walked with since childhood—first meeting it in cancer that filled my body, then when witnessing my grandfather’s departure and now courting my grandmother’s breath. 

For most of my life, it has felt overwhelmingly scary, a force that can wipe out hopes, dreams, and possibilities without so much as a by your leave. It does what it wants, when it wants, how it wants…and who am I to try and contend with it, much less make peace with such a huge force?

Concurrently, as I have leaned into the death process by observing and participating in the transitions of my relatives and friends, I have found myself more and more fascinated instead of scared by its power.

I talked with grandma about her death several times before she entered its final stages. She admitted to being scared, mostly because it was unknown. She’d never done it before…and how I admired her clarity around that. Related to it.

It seems to me that we miss much by living in such a sanitized culture around the dying process. There is something pure and focused in the process of spirit and body dissolving from their marriage.

It is impossible to look away from her face, both mask and mirror, as I hold her hand.

Her spirit, enrobed in flesh, reveals itself with every breath moving her body into dissolution.

So much gratitude for her gift of allowing me to witness this shape shifting...

Grandma relaxes into morphine, the suffering of lung cancer dancing her towards non-physical realms, easing.

On this gentle slide, her face stretches, bone pushing towards air like mountains reaching up from the sea.

Mouth opens, a cavern for soul to echo within as it moves to light.

Breath becomes afterthought, lungs expanding in sudden memory, now flutters out as attention turns inward and ascends.

I feel warmth in her hands, their soft strength resting in mine as my finger traces her brows.

She is beautiful in her surrender, victorious in her grace.

It is safe to fly, dear one, to follow the light and take your rest.

You are loved.
You are free.
You are free.


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