Monday, March 18, 2013

A Life's End

She stopped breathing and ended, by so doing, a lifetime of goodness, integrity and generosity.  She was my husband's Mom but also my "love Mom" since only love linked us and she was to me another Mother after mine passed away.

I was very lucky having had two formidable women to serve the role of mothers, the later more of a dear friend since she did not have to raise me.  It was hard, was sad and was so final.  In a way, it was the farewell to the connection with such a dedicated generation that valued what we often forget; quiet and unspoken courage to go through life, illnesses and challenges as well as success. They made something really good and brave out of themselves and stood proud but not asking for any recognition.

We buried her on a cold, windy, gray and snowy day with a graveside ceremony.  The whole family sat in the front row under the tent fighting tears that got caught in our throat making it so hard to talk.  As her casket got lowered into the ground, Mirah, the four year old granddaughter of her daughter-in-law, walked to the grave holding her grandma's hand and dropped a card that she had made for Grandma Ruth onto the casket.  We all looked at such a miracle gesture only a four year old could do, so endearing, so meaningful and inspiring.  In a child's eyes death is not final.  The note was there to be read.  Most likely in spirit and in peace, Ruth read the final note with its colored crayons drawings and laughed.  Mirah always made her laugh!

Death has its gifts.  Being able to see so many people we had not seen in a long time and visiting with them, reviewing their memories about Ruth to add to the long store of images and words that we carry with us about her.  The rabbi at the graveside service said it so well.  "As long as you live her memories will stay with you."

So it is with all of us. The long lineage of the previous generations are stored in our heart and souls and since we cannot be born without dying, it is in a way a form of immortality.  One that is precious.

After a few days, her two sons and wives revisited the grave.  The sun shone on us but it was cold.  Steve, my husband's older brother had been generously taking complete care of Ruth's needs with his admirable wife Deana and both had done so incredibly much compared to us living here in Colorado limited by distance; only sending genuine love, making phone calls, writing notes, e-mailing and in my case, sending snail mail letters. Their grief was great but her illnesses had them prepared for her final departure. My husband was still very much in shock.

Steve read something he wrote inspired by the Lincoln museum they had visited the day before in Springfield IL and mentioned the importance of spending a lifetime reaching out and touching favorably other people. He said that not all people influence so many as Lincoln did.  But within our own circles we do. We hear it all the time.  Make a difference.  I believe that we touch many other beings that we either inspire or actually work with in life and often the difference it makes is not obvious to us, but it is present like a beacon of grace that gets passed on to others.

This chain is the never ending link that all humanity shares.  It perpetuates what humans recognize as our basic goodness and all the qualities that go with it. We are born, live and die but we live through others that come after us or around us and the beauty of it is infinite.

Steve and Mirah

Ruth and Barry

Copyright Micheline Brierre March 2013


  1. This is most beautiful Micheline. I am always amazed at the beauty and grace and thoughtfulness. You honored Ruth and her family beautifully.

  2. Profound words on life, death and continuity.

  3. It is so true that this older generation was so very special having endured with so much grace and dignity he hardness of life as well as its wondrous sweetness. We are lucky to have such example in our close circle and the tradition continues.

    Nice memorial for Ruth sis.



  4. Micheline,

    I just read your blog and it was beautiful. You have a real gift for writing and you captured the events of my mom’s passing so eloquently and brought them to life. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. You really should be a professional writer.

  5. Dear Micheline,

    Your words about Ruth were so beautiful. You were the daughter of her heart as well. The letters and pictures and phone calls as well as the visits were always highlights of her life. One of her last conversations was about your cards sent to her at the nursing home and how she loved them and the two of you.
    Deana Kaplan

  6. "Aunt Ruth was a tiny lady...but had a giant, gentle heart full of love :) You are right about her living on in all of us, we were so blessed every time we got to visit with her and I'm so glad my children got to know her and now have those memories to remember and pass on to future generations also."

  7. This was so beautiful. I never knew Ruth, but you made her real to me with your words. YOu have such a wonderous way with words. I'm truly sorry for your and Barry's loss.

  8. "Barry and Micheline....we are so sorry to hear of your loss! Our thoughts, love and prayers are with you both. Much love...
    Debbie Perey

  9. "thinking of you both, blessings!"
    Tracy Miller

  10. I know this is a challenge for you, all of the regrouping and letting go, remembering
    crying, laughing, the sadness and the joy involved when someone we love gets to go home and we are still here
    in this dimension.

    The stress it causes, in a world where we are already stressed. Both of you Cry, Laugh, Hug, and release the stress that death brings to all who knew and loved
    her. This is a huge step forward toward change, I send love to you all as you move
    forward into this next phase of your life.
    Celeste Masters


  11. Penny Miles commented on your link.
    Penny wrote: "I loved her sooo much. As a little girl I was infatuated with how much of a true lady and fun she was. As I grew older she helped me out one time when I thought I was in dispair and I never forgot how she jumped right in to help me and my kids out. I love the memory of both her and Grandma K sleeping in a little twin size bed together taking naps at Grandma's cause they're both such small framed women. I'll always keep with me though how soft her face was when she'd grab you and give you a kiss :)"

  12. a lovely and loving tribute micheline .... and so we each carry on. and on and on and on. in love -