I just recently re-watched episode 7×17 of One Tree Hill. At the end, Nathan & Jamie arrange an early Christmas so that they can celebrate one last holiday with Haley’s dying mother.
I lost my own mother 10 years ago, very suddenly. My loss was not like that of Haley James Scott. There were no last Christmas thoughts. My loss was closer to that of Buffy Summers. There was no warning. No sickness. One day she was there. The next day, she was not.
I am often asked, “Would you have preferred a sickness so that you could say goodbye, rather than the sudden end?”
For me and Buffy and Dawson Leary there is the knowledge that our loved one didn’t suffer. They were there and then they were gone. We, of course suffer all of it. But for those that we loved, there is no pain, no second guessing, no, “what if”.
My Aunt lost her husband two years ago. And not in the most pleasant of ways. Am I glad she was able to say goodbye? Absolutely. But I would never wish the pain of watching a loved one suffer the way that he did on anyone. Ever.
Do I wish I had even 10 more minutes with my mother? To ask her all of the questions, to tell her how much she meant to me? To thank her for all of her sacrifice? To find out how she made her special soup? Of course I would want that. But never at the expense of her suffering.
I can imagine that there is a sense of closure people get when they know ahead of time that someone will die. Everyone wants the chance to say goodbye. But I can imagine that there is also the horror of watching someone you love melt into nothing right before your eyes.
The last image I have of my mother is her standing on our lawn, waving goodbye, yelling for us to be safe, as we headed off for a camping trip.
Ten years later, I still do it, every day.