Remember the Sparkles.
Exactly one year ago, this was my Grandad’s final week on this earth. My mother had been nursing him since October. She went back home to England solely for this purpose, the only last loving thing she could do for him. Her grieving process has not been easy since his death, this last year has been difficult, and these last few weeks it seems that she is reliving her memories, and now desperately trying to recall those final days with her dad.
Last year, I would do my very best from across the Atlantic to support her. Even at my age, I am no stranger to death. I was with my estranged biological Father when he took his last breath, and I lost a friend the year before to cancer, and had been active in his care and final days. I knew physically and emotionally what she was enduring. I understood end of life, and the in home hospice care environment that she was coping with. When she would tell me about a happy moment, something that made her laugh or smile, I would tell her to hold onto it, and tuck it away somewhere, calling it a “sparkle”. Some days just having a sip of water was a sparkle. Reaching out for my Grandmothers hand was a sparkle. Smiling, and recalling something from the past, or just having a nice chat. She would sit quietly with him and in those moments she got to experience many sparkles. Because I firmly believe you need sparkles to light up all those dark, heartbreaking moments.
Minutes before my real father passed, my sister and I softly whispered words of forgiveness to a lifeless man who had been absent for most of our lives. I had just flown in from Los Angeles, and we drove like the wind from London, Heathrow to his beside in a convalescent home in Sussex. He looked more like a man in his late eighties, than the 64 year old man he was, and I hadn’t seen him in probably a decade. His occasional rattling breath was the only indication of life. We held his hand, kissed his forehead, spoke gently, and watched amazed as a tear fell from his eye, tried to squeeze our hand and then slipped away within minutes of our arrival. For me that tear was a sparkle.
My friend, close to the end, so weak and frail had a moment where he wanted to dance. He managed to stand and he took me in his arms, hummed a tune and we swayed back and forth. His mum and sister laughed and cried, both fumbling for their cell phones trying to capture the rare moment. He gave me a couple of other special moments, mostly the most incredible smiles, and big “I love you’s ” when his mind was clear. These are my sparkles.
I am sharing this today for my mum. I hope she can remember her sparkles. If you have lost a loved one, or perhaps someone you love is terminally ill maybe when you recognize a sparkle it will help you get through tough times, like what my mum is going through. Never forget that we are given moments to remember throughout an entire lifetime, memories that we hold dear. But there is something so special about a sparkle….so please remember the sparkles!