The Picturing Death Project Journal Entries from 1999-2003

The simple but effective structure for the Picturing Death Project, a cast glass table, four chairs, and journals, provide a structure for journal writing with 4 questions that help participants examine how we will choose to live with the knowledge that death is inevitable. Currently, the project table, chairs and journals reside at Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan in Kalamazoo.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Journal Entry 155

I try not to imagine what happens to me after I die. I do, however, imagine what happens to those I have loved I see my grandmother sitting in light, my grandfather in dark, Gudrun smiling, hair done, lipstick on. Mother just there, waiting.

When my cat Figaro was dying, I said to him “Don’t get lost in the universe. Come back for me.” I would like him there when I go, and I imagine Mother and Gudrun will be too. I’ll meet up with my grandparents later.

Maybe we’ll all meet at the cottage with the other ghosts who live there. We come back i the spring and are their guests. I imagine they live there in Winter, the sun low on the lake, the cottage smells. They make dinner there, smoke, play games at the table. They lay low when we get there in the spring. They are hospitable, concerned, non-interfering. We’ll join them sooner or later, they know that and don’t fret at how long that will take. Granny visits, and Grif and Scott, Martha and John. Figaro catches ghost mice who don’t mind it at all.

Larry will be going there soon, and waiting for Susan in back of the red tree in the cemetery.

When my grandmother died, I was sitting in the room with Susan. We were talking, then I noticed Grandma’s breathing change. I looked at Susan and sid, “she’s going.” We went to her had, we held her hands. She had been spouting gibberish earlier in the evening. My father became afraid. told the nurse at the NH he wanted an ambulance called. My grandmother had colon cancer, had dropped 150 #’s. The nurse knew what the transfer would entail, how uncomfortable my grandmother would be in CPR, how unnecessary that would be. She said to my father, no, don’t do that, like a quiet prayer and I said, let’s stay here and he got it. He took my mother and Auntie Mary, Pat and Tomina, Grandma’s sister, out to dinner. Susan and I were alone when she started to change from living to dead. My mother who had been drinking, started keening loudly, “oh lord, have mercy on this miserable sinner.” My father held his mother’s feet. I put my anger at my mother on the back burner, and watched my grandmother breath in, breath out. Then just stopped in time. Oh, she’s died, I thought. How easy that looked. How unafraid she has made me. She taught me something else.

I can’t say I’ve been afraid of dying since then. It was just another thing that she taught me how to do like sing to my children and bake Irish soda bread. Tell a good story. Laugh real loud, gossip with dedication. Be sly, figure a way around a problem, use your head. Be comfortable lying if you have to.

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