Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The last time

I've become addicted to this fabulous show called "Two Fat Ladies." It was a cooking show in England in the late 90's and it features (as you could imagine) two rotund women of a certain age. The show ran from 96 to 99 and featured the voluptuous women cooking in various locals and using lots of local ingredients. Tonight I watched them make (I'm not kidding on any of this) Strawberry breasts, Beef in Pastry, Salmon Mousse, and Swiss Chard with garlic and anchovies. They chortle along together while they cook and quote odd bits of poetry or share funny bits of history about the food they are cooking. At the end of the show they show their guests sitting down to dinner, share a few tips about serving each dish and have a drink somewhere picturesque. Clarissa and Jennifer always seemed the best of friend except when they argue about whether or not someone sat on the raspberries needed for that nights dessert (Pudding, they call it).
I recently read up on them a bit and found out that it was the death of Jennifer that ended the show. As I watched it tonight, I saw them both sitting on an old stone terrace, Clarissa with a glass of something orange and Jennifer with her scotch and cigarette. The sun set behind them as they stretched their sturdy legs in front of them and fully enjoyed their repose after a day spent in the kitchen. The thought occurred to me that if Jennifer were a friend of mine, this is what I would always want to picture her doing before she passed. Drink in her hand, cigarette on her lip and the pride of having done something productive all day glowing about her, sashaying into the long goodnight. It got me thinking about why it is so important for us to think that our loved ones who have passed on had peaceful or beautiful last moments.
So much is made of the last of something before someone dies. A last holiday, a last conversation, a last hug. A dear friend of mine just lost her brother to a very early death and she's been distraught that the last time she talked to him, it was a less than stellar conversation. I want to tell her to not worry about it but we all do.
I religiously say "I Love You" to my husband every morning before he leaves for work simply because he has to drive 11 miles with idiot DC metro drivers and I'm always a bit terrified that he won't make it home. I say "I Love you" every morning so if for some reason he didn't make it home, he would die knowing that I loved him. This is really silly because a hurried statement on his way out the door won't counteract unloving behavior displayed the rest of the day. If I don't love him with my actions during the time he's here, a superstitions sweet nothing isn't going to cut it. As a basketball coach of mine once said, "It's not the shot you missed as the buzzer blew that lost us the game, it was all the missed shots during the rest of the game."
The last minutes do matter but they can't spoil a loving relationship if they are bad and they don't make up for a contentious relationship if they're good. It's the relationship that counts, not the last minute.
For my friend, I want to tell her that her brother knew he was loved but I don't know. I know she tried to love him as best she could. She's just that kind of person, spreading sunshine wherever she goes. I know that at times her brother was difficult and pushed love and help away with both hands but in the time of his death, I know that brings no comfort. All that can really be said now is that she tried, she always tried and at the end of the day, that's all we can do. We do our best to love those around us the best we can and hope that they see the love in our every action. Then it won't matter if a sharp word is exchanged from time to time because at the end, the love is the only thing that lasts.
I don't know if I believe all that stuff about people who have passed on looking down on us from heaven, looking out for us or being cared for by other loved ones who have also passed on. I think that if you're in the presence of an eternal and loving God that singing His praises is about the only thing you'd have time for and the troubles of this world will seem silly and petty. Despite my belief to the contrary, I could see Jennifer up in heaven, on a cloud this time sharing a scotch with the brother of my friend and having a rousing political discussion. I like to think of them watching the sunset and resting from the turmoil of this mortal coil. I like to think that all of his troubles have left him now and he is at peace and feeling loved.

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