My mother-in-law loved Christmas. It was a special family time for her and for us. So when she knew she was dying of cancer she gave us a gift. She stayed alive in hospital, even enjoyed the choir that sang carols in the halls. Not quite conscious but you could tell she heard them. She loved music, had been a wonderful singer and played piano.
But New Years Day was Mom’s birthday, so she gave herself a gift as well and slipped away peacefully at 2:30 a.m. - her 59th.
At 5:30 a.m. my spouse, father-in-law and I sat in our living room reminiscing about Mom; her laugh, what a sweet, gentle, creative woman she was, always the consummate hostess, always gracious and accepting of difference. She was also a deeply spiritual woman.
A lull occurred in the flow of conversation and we kept silent for a few moments, each in our own thoughts, sad, but also relieved that Mom’s suffering had ended.
I looked up over my left shoulder to see Mom, head and shoulders only, looking as well as I had ever known her, dressed in a filmy green fabric in the shade of green she loved. She smiled at me, gave her characteristic giggle that had endeared her to me and spun in a graceful pirouette that would have made a ballerina jealous. Then she gave me another smile and faded from view.
I was the only one who experienced this. The others had no idea what had just happened. But we had a special bond and her visitation was a great comfort to me. She let me know that all was well with her and I need not worry about her any more. I took it as her gift to me for being the only one in the family who would listen when she wanted to give up fighting, the only one who would hear that she was dying That gift gave me certitude that there is, indeed, an afterlife.