The love of my life has gone. Her suffering has ended, but the hole she leaves in my life is so vast and I am so exhausted and in pain that I have been unable to write or be in touch these past few days. People have called and emailed and posted here the kindest of words but I have been too fragile and distraught to respond.
Laura knew on wednesday that she was dying. It felt as if the dying process had started a day or two earlier as she lapsed in and out of an intense sleepiness. She struggled desperately to communicate a last few things to me. But it seemed as if she had moved into another realm. She lost consciousness late morning on Wednesday, shortly after telling me ‘I love you’.
From Wednesday through Thursday I was up for nearly 40 hours straight. Kerry and I sat vigil with her on Thursday night. We took turns holding her hand. Shortly after midnight Kerry fell asleep on the couch. While I gently held Laura, I whispered to her to let herself go and be free. That she didn’t need to stay spiritually on this plane for me. For the next two hours I started to see a steady stream of white light pouring upward out of the top of her head as if her being was streaming upward out of her body.
Perhaps birth and dying are not so very far apart. It seems that death is a process that needs time. I know that if we had lived in Oregon, Laura would have used the Death with Dignity act to end her life on her own terms, even before she was admitted to Memorial Sloan Kettering. It would have curtailed her suffering, especially when the previous doctor couldn’t control her pain and nausea. But with hindsight, I wonder if a sudden death from an overdose might curtail the spiritual transition somehow.
I’ve never seen anyone die before, so I have only what I witnessed. And there was a strange beauty to what I saw. Just before she was pronounced dead, it was as if she was going to wake up and speak, her eyelids fluttered and she said something I couldn’t understand and then her breathing stopped. I woke Kerry when I realized what had just happened and the two of us watched for the next 5 hours as eddies of energy still moved through her body. Even after her heart had stopped it seemed as if her being was still leaving and the pain that she had endured began to seep away. Over the hours her face relaxed into an almost beatific look, like a beautiful marble sculpture with her unmistakable gentle long fingers and strong kindly face.
I went home and wept for hours and every so often Laura appeared. My computer suddenly played one of her favorite Luther Vandross songs ‘If this world were mine’ and on my cellphone I found a sweet new message from Laura saying ‘I miss you’. Wherever you are Laura, I miss you too.