I’m feeling the truth of Shakespeare’s words –the world is a stage and we are the players.
Driving down the grade yesterday morning I had a vision of my mother’s final exit. Stoic until the end, fighting a lonely battle with life, she drew people in and pushed them away at the same time. She embodied all the mystery of life, fighting for autonomy while holding death like a secret within her. The feistiness that so often seemed to us to be misplaced endeared her to the staff that cared for her in her final days. Feisty woman, perhaps, was the role life assigned her.
Feistiness is a touchy and quarrelsome reaction but also a spirited one. Much of what my sister and I said to my mother ignited unintended, often shocking, responses. In retrospect, she cared deeply about things we didn’t pay much attention to. Things like politics, nutrition, privacy and family history.
Mom took her last breath early on the morning of August 1, 2010. In her final year, she grew more accepting of the love people offered her. Although we were by her bedside much of the time, I suppose it is fitting that we were not there when death finally came. By choice, she fought most of her battles alone.
In my vision, mom leaves the stage to join those behind the curtain – the producer, director, stage manager and technical crew who create the play. “Good job, Shirley,” they tell her, and they mean it. She has played the role she was cast in, interpreting her part to the best of her ability. She has served as a foil for others on the stage as they developed their parts, not an easy role but apparently critical to the success of a good play.
I look forward to the day when I can sit down with the real Shirley and we can share the good things in life everlasting. Will we reminisce about the life we lived in front of the dark glass? Who was the audience we couldn’t see? It is written in Psalm 8 that we are made a little lower than the angels. We know that they watch us. I think they surround us – a technical crew offering help and support and season ticket holders, appreciating the mystery God has wrought and the part we play in it.