Our first outing together: rally the ladies' walkers and wind our way up a hill to the main building for lunch at the progressive care facility's lovely dining room. After all, lunch is included in the cost of their independent-living cottage.
All dressed up, make-up carefully checked, we began our stroll. Not an easy one, given my aunt's hip replacement and Mom's degenerative spine. I got to the top of the hill first, thinking I'd hold the door open and help park the strollers (as I call them).
But, nothing prepared me for what I saw: a hearse, motor running and coldly waiting, while staff rolled a blue cloth-covered body out the door. I glanced down the hill - good, they were both still a ways off. Sobered, I quietly watched the ritual: open the hatch door, roll the gurney to the edge, slide the lifeless body in, carefully maintain the thoughtful cover. Quickly, the hearse drove off and the staff walked briskly inside just as my mother and aunt's smiling faces appeared at the top of the knoll.
My private experience reminds me of how closely life/anticipation/joy coexist with death/dread/sorrow. They always have and they always will.
With renewed appreciation for my lovely ladies, I held the door open and we headed toward our free lunch.