CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- While many of us were overloading the pumpkin pie with whipped cream, while we were watching parades and football games and tsk-tsking news reports of bad behavior at stores, a friend was practicing how to say goodbye to his mom.
It's been a long-time coming. She's nearly 90. Lived a full life. Has no regrets.
As it so often can be, the pain of her slow passing seems spread among those she's leaving behind. He said she mostly sleeps while they watch, and frequently, when she wakes, she looks past them, to the corner of the room.
When that happens, he said her gaze will often seem to soften, and sometimes, she'll smile and try to lift her hand to reach toward whatever, or whomever, she's seeing.
Not long ago, I read an article by David Kessler about his new book, "Visions, Trips and Crowded Rooms: Who and What You See Before You Die," where he discussed the commonalities between those who are dying.
Among the most frequent of the shared occurrences are visits from those who have already passed.
The author's own father, who had always been an upbeat and optimistic man, became extraordinarily sad near the end, talking frequently about the many things he was going to miss. Until one morning when he told David that his wife--David's mother--had visited him the night before. Except she had died when David wasn't yet in his teens.
Said his father: "I was looking at all I was losing, and I'd forgotten that I was going to be with her again. I'm going to see her soon."
His father then looked at his son, who he realized he was leaving behind.
"We'll be there waiting for you," his father said.
David hadn't seen his father so excited in years. He went from a hopeless, dying man to one who was looking forward to being reunited with those he loved.