Lover's Key, Florida

Lover's Key, Florida

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Doing the Loving Thing

We do not find it easy, in our culture, to talk about death and the events surrounding it. There are certain things I remember about the night that Gwen died that are forever burned into my memory. There are also many things about that night that I don't remember at all. Those who know know about these things tell me this is not an uncommon occurrence.

This is something I remember vividly and lovingly. On more than one occasion Gwen and I had discussed having me bathe her and dress her in clean clothes after her death. Those of you who knew Gwen know how important it was to her that she always look her best. As events transpired, even in death, I was able to honor her in that way. I was not at all sure that I would be able to do it, but as it turned out, it is now my most loving memory of that whole evening.

I recall filling a basin with warm water, being careful that it was neither too cold nor too hot. (I would treat her no differently in death than I had in life.) I removed her clothing, soaped a washcloth and gave her a final bath. Then I sprayed on a little of her favorite perfume, patted on some of her favorite "Youth Dew" dusting powder, dressed her in some favorite clothing and combed her hair. As she had bathed and carefully groomed and dressed herself before all of the important events in our life, beginning with our wedding, I was now able to prepare her for her last journey. It was the loving thing to do. My memories of this are so tender, personal and poignant that to attempt to describe them in more detail would make them meaningless. The poem below tries to capture a little bit of what it felt like:


I hold her lifeless body
In my warm embrace,
a soft sigh of false hope escapes her lips
as I gently raise and bathe her.

I hold in my arms
the same loving body
I beheld with wonder
on our first night together.

She was soft and giving then,
when our lives as one began,
sharing our love,
completing each other.

Her beautiful blue eyes, now closed,
filled with tears of joy
on that first night
as she gave me all her warmth.

Now, it is my eyes that fill with tears.

John A. Bayerl, January 4, 2011

Those, like myself, who hold the belief that life does not end with death, it changes, will readily understand how liberating it felt to prepare my wife in this way. Later that evening her body would be taken off to the funeral parlor; the topic for tomorrow's posting.


Gary said...

John, This is beautiful.


A Myeloma Widow's Journey said...

Such a beautifully tender parting, John. I, too, remember my Vern's final night quite vividly and those memories are most precious to me.