Today is a sacred day for me. This was Laura’s last full day on earth. And close to midnight, I got to watch the magic of her soul streaming upward out of her body. But I’ve always felt sad that I missed Laura’s final words, or rather that I couldn’t make them out. Just before she died (at 2.50am on Jan 16, 2014) she said what sounded like strained baby talk – ‘Gar!..Gar!…Gar!’ and immediately afterwards she was gone.
I’ve always wondered what she was trying to communicate – a final goodbye or a revelation about the great beyond? Steve Jobs apparently said ‘Oh Wow! Oh Wow! Oh Wow!’ as if he was bowled over by the beauty of the afterlife. But I’ve also worried that Laura might have been in pain or calling out for help. I don’t know why I haven’t thought to ask her before. I guess I’ve felt too sad about having ‘missed’ this final communication. But last night the timing felt right.
I was putting clean sheets on my bed and to my delight I found Laura’s old yellow linen coverlet in the cupboard – it smelt deliciously of her and her apartment on Gay Street. For me, scents immediately conjure up a time, a place or a person. I had asked Laura to send me something lovely earlier in the day and here it was – a big snuggly cover to hold me safe through the anniversary of her passing. As I bedded down for the night, Laura’s fragrance tickling my nose and soothing my heart, I started talking to Laura and felt her cradling my head and planting kisses on my forehead, ears and nose.
I asked her first what it felt like to die and suddenly there was an invisible ‘thumb’ pressing down hard on my windpipe choking me. And I remembered immediately her rasping breath and the staccato bursts of her breathing, which felt as precarious as someone clinging to a cliff edge. She said that despite this, she felt ‘calm’ and ‘peaceful’. And yes, she was in pain. Then after the ‘thumb’ had let me go, and I recovered my composure, I asked her ‘What did you say? What were those parting words I couldn’t hear?’ And back came: ‘I love you’. It made perfect sense. It fit the 3 beats of ‘Gar-Gar-Gar’ And it fit her last words to me in the morning. Before she went unconscious she strained to tell me the same thing: ‘ Ayyyyeee – llll..uuu..v – you!’ I laughed with joy and relief. Oh Laura, the love we have is an eternal flame that warms my heart and soul. And though I may travel to the ends of the world and love again, I will never forget you. For wherever I go, there you are too, at my side dear heart. ‘I love you… I always will.’