Saying goodbye to Laura

Laura was 92 years old. She still lived alone, cared for herself, drove to the grocery store once a week, and got her hair done every Wednesday. She drove a 1982 Ford Fairmont that still sported the tires we bought for her in 1990. She insisted they were in great condition. She could be wildly difficult, but she loved fiercely. She married and divorced and married again the love of her life and we were all better for it. Her final thoughts were of her husband and that she would be seeing him soon.

We knew at her age that even something as simple as a cold was alarming. So when we were told she was in the hospital we arranged to get to Montana quickly. Her sass and spicy nature were on full display and she maintained she would be going home. There would be no rehab center for recovery, she was going home. We tried everything to help her understand the seriousness of her health. There was no realistic way for her to go home in her current state, but she would not be swayed. She was an adult and she had her own mind.

As the days passed, though, her certainty was quieted. There reached a point where the silence took over and she looked up- eyes staring a hole through the ceiling to the heavens. A heaviness settled on her and we knew she understood that she would not be going home, and she would not get to see her beloved pup, Charlie, again. Her body weakened quickly after this. We lost her the next day.

Documenting this experience was important for the family who couldn't be with her and to help all of us heal from the grief and loss. Being a witness to someone's final stages of life allows us to honor their journey.