You’re dressed like a queen. Look at you!

She grins. Of course I am!

It is our last day. She knows. She is ready.

Her queenly attire is a magnificent purple garment, replete with puffed sleeves. But like so many other things here, it is beauty that hides an underlying, harder truth. The pajamas are really designer hospital gowns, fashioned and lovingly made by a hospice volunteer.

The gowns are truly splendid in the front, but fully functional in the back, sewn so that patients can experience the soul nourishment that comes when wearing elegant clothes, sewn so they can avoid the indignity of a hospital gown, and sewn so the staff can still do the frequent, uncomfortable, even messy things that must be done.

Dying is not beautiful. It is not lovely. It can be gentle. It can be welcome. It can be expected and embraced, but it is not beautiful. It is not like Hollywood or television would have us believe. Dying has sounds. It has smells. It has moments of agony, of fear, of confusion and delirium. It also has moments of profound, unexplainable peace.

Before today I have watched two other family members take their final breaths. I also searched for and found the body of my younger brother who had taken his own life. Today my mom’s passing will become entwined with those memories. It will become part of my story, of my ever changing fabric.

Today her eyes will close, her breath will slow, her heart will beat no more, and she will be gone. It will be peaceful in those final few moments. It will be quiet. And after our long journey together, it will be welcome.

But like other deaths I have witnessed, it will also have its own spirit, its own feeling. Lois’ passing will be different because her road was different. That road, sprinkled often with stones that cut bone deep, was her road, and her road alone. Now, as she takes this final step, it will end in a way that can only ever be hers. And as she steps quietly away from me one last time, I will find waiting as many emotions as there have been lives on the planet.

Today like nearly every other day in this place, Death is visiting, but this time he is visiting a queen of sorts, a monarch robed at last in the fabric of the few, afforded in days of old only to those of great privilege. Queen Lois. Purple.

Today Death is visiting a lady who birthed four children, adopted two more, and raised two grandchildren after that.

Today he has come for an 87 year old woman – frail with the years and consumed by cancer run wild, the woman who watched her oldest child breathe his last – the loving father, a martial arts expert emaciated and brought down by leukemia – at 25.

Today Death is here to see the mother who took my phone call the night I found my brother’s body, the mother whose agony was heard raging deep in the void.

Today Death is calling the grandmother who writhed at the death of my sister’s daughter.

Today he is beckoning to the grandmother who became a second mother and wrestled with God yet again when a grandchild took her own life.

Today he is calling for Lois Ann, arrived helpless on Earth, 1934. Departing helpless from Earth, 2022.

Today Death has come to meet my mom, the already old woman I woke in the middle of the night four years, three months, and four days ago:

Rob, is it time?

Yes, Mom, it’s time.

She struggles to swing her life-weary hip to the edge of her bed, mere feet from Dad’s recently borrowed and installed hospital bed.

Is he still breathing?

He is, but it’s getting slower.


Come, sit beside him.

Alan? I’m here…

And now, on this day that is four years, three months and four days later, despite all of her struggles, the hills and valleys of 62 years of marriage – more valleys than hills in recent years, despite all of her weaknesses and brittle, shrouded secrets held close until these last few days, she has earned a royal send off.

After all of her pain, she should be given at least this much.

Perhaps the universe knew that she would be leaving today.

Of course it did.

Purple has been provided.


Darcy Sauer · March 8, 2022 at 9:04 pm

There are no words…you have said them all, perfectly.

vagabondletters_eq6mqq · March 14, 2022 at 5:37 pm

Thanks 🙂 It’s so very different for everyone but I hope that these thoughts resonate and allow people to reflect on their own experiences.

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