One week ago yesterday I drove out to Louisville to visit a friend and her family. It was a beautiful day and I noticed a group of horses frolicking in the meadow along the road. They didn’t have a care in the world, tossing their heads, punching one another with their noses, kicking their heels up in the strengthening sunshine.
I relayed my observation when I arrived, telling my friend what I had seen en route. She closed her eyes as I spoke and I could tell from her face that she could see the romping creatures as well. She seemed to feel the grass, the wind, the sunshine. She could hear the neighs and whinnies of the roan, the black and the pinto. She smiled.
I sat quietly for a while waiting for her to return from the pasture, and soon she opened her eyes and smiled at me. The conversation moved on and we reminisced about the potluck we had worked to prepare together–she cooked a wonderful ham and I made green beans. It had been Easter then too; we’d used chocolate eggs as the table centerpiece. Was that one year ago or two? After a little figuring we remembered that we had done it two years in a row. It was almost a tradition.
Almost, but not quite. We hadn’t been able to share the joy of cooking for others this year; this year my friend was in hospice. This year she ate ham that her daughter cooked and brought to her.
She drifted a bit as she thought about when she had last eaten. I rose to leave, sensing that she needed to rest. But as I stood looking down at her realizing that I wouldn’t see her again–at least not in this world–I was overcome by a strong urge to touch her. I felt that I wanted to connect. So I reached out and patted her feet through the covers. It wasn’t enough. The feeling was strong in me that I should do more, so I asked if I could rub her feet. “Of course,” she said, “that would be nice.” “May I pull up the blankets?” “Yes, do.”
So I lifted the beautiful red quilt tied with the prayers of the entire congregation and sewn by the ladies of the church, and found her feet. Small and warm with beautiful pink nails, her feel were smooth with oil. I rubbed her heels, the bottoms of her toes, her soles, her ankles. And through my touch I felt energy, energy that left me and went to her. She was relaxed and seemed to enjoy the experience. Then, I felt that I was done; she had what she needed.
I have had that experience before when I sat as companion to a friend who died. It was as if through touch, I gave energy that was needed for him to make the transition. It was what I wanted to give; what I had to give.
And here I was again, called to give my energy, this time to Rebecca. I covered her feet back up and tucked the blankets in loosely. I hugged her, kissed her, and told her I loved her. She hugged me back with surprising strength and thanked me for coming. But it was I who was grateful for the time shared.
That visit was a week ago yesterday. Two days later she died. Last night at dusk I joined in the celebration of her life with a church filled with her family and friends. She would have loved that time–the music, the service, the gathering.
I am thankful that we could talk of horses and ham on that glorious afternoon–and that we could touch. There’s no doubt in my mind that the energy that flowed between us was love.