Packing my memories to go
Just before that last breath is taken, I encourage those who are about to say goodbye, to share some favorite memories. Not necessarily with me, although I always enjoy that, but more for the person they love, to be able to take with them when they go. It is in these moments where I am gifted glimpses of their life, windows that have been open just enough for me to peek inside… and I love this so much, but it feels like such a tease... always leaving me wanting more.
When I was a young girl, I created stories in my head of a life I dreamt of having. They were filled with magic, music, and dancing, and I lived in fancy houses with lots of rooms that I could invite all of my fabulous friends to come over and play in. My fantasy life kept me moving forward during the times I felt were darkest and I clung on to them like a safety net. And as I grew older, I found myself doing the same for people I would casually meet, creating a life they may or may not have had.
And now as an adult, when I am not gifted stories from people at the bedside, and the person I am with is dying alone, I imagine the life they might have had. It comforts me to assume they were not always alone and instead lived a full and happy life. Unfortunately, I know that is not always a truth, which saddens me.
And that is why I encourage memory sharing at the bedside. It feels to me like they are sending someone they love off with a beautifully wrapped package of the moments they shared together. This gets to be their take-away. And in my mind, which is always creating magic and fantasy, I imagine them collecting the memories that have just been shared and thinking to themselves… “I am packing my memories to go” and this makes me smile inside.
As I was writing this particular blog, having the title already planted firmly in my head, I was sent a poem by my new friend Courtney Murrell, and the first part of it goes like this:
“I looked for you when I came in
And when I saw you, something had changed
I knew in my heart, without any doubt
You were packing your memories to go”
And I smiled…
This morning I sat at the bedside with a son and his wife who had just said goodbye to his mother. After she took that last breath, he told me he had imagined her on a big cruise ship, heading out for another journey, perhaps she was going to sail around the world, which made him feel better about having to say goodbye. He shared that all of her grandchildren (and great grandchildren) had come to say their goodbyes recently, filling her hands with kisses and telling her to take them with her when she goes. He said he has known for days she was ready ... but wasn't sure what she was waiting for. I smiled and said, "it sounds like she has been packing her memories, getting ready to go, but was waiting for the kisses before she could leave." He smiled and said, "I like the thought of that."
I am absolutely certain I will continue to create a lifetime of adventures that may or may not have ever happened for those I am holding space for as they are dying. But if they are blessed to have you at their bedside and you have a memory or two to share… give them something extra to pack in their to-go box. xo
If you have not heard of Courtney, I encourage you to read her book of poetry, titled “77 Poetry” it is lovely and so is she… here is her website: https://fromtheashesiamreal.com