As many of you already know, my sister passed away Saturday morning. Her greatest desires through her long ordeal were to go home and to see her grandchildren. Her son and his fourteen year-old twin sons visited her several times while in the hospital in Salt Lake. Her daughter's two children, both adults, came too, but what was hard was not to be able to see her granddaughter's twin girls (six) and their little brother. The small children weren't allowed in the cancer unit. And how she longed to see her grandson's much anticipated baby due in November. The day before she died, when death was inevitable, her husband and son made arrangements to transfer her to a hospital nearer their home and all of the grandchildren were able to visit her and say good-bye.
When the medical transport left Salt Lake Friday morning I cried, but a little song our father taught us when we were children came to mind. It went "one little, two little, three little Indians, four little . . ." Because there were ten of us in our family we changed the words to "one little, two little, three little Smiths, four little . . ." and on up to ten, then we counted backward "ten little, nine little, eight little Smiths, seven little . . ." The thought came to me that we're down to six now, but on the other side, they're up to four.
Feeling lost and sad yesterday, I found it difficult to settle into any of the many tasks I've ignored over the long months of my sister's illness. My son-in-law, Steve, decided I needed to get out, get away for a little while. He and my daughter with their three children came to collect my husband and me for a drive along the Alpine Loop. Seated next to my ten-year-old granddaughter, I took pleasure in her loving smiles and quick mind and laughed at our seven-year-old's efforts to eat all of the snacks and keep his little brother from getting too wild. It was a beautiful day, but I couldn't help thinking of how much my sister loved the mountains and changing of the seasons. It was a refreshing trip and brought me a sense of peace, reminding me that my little sister is no longer suffering, but is Home with our older brother and our parents. We finished the day with dinner in Heber and I found something especially dear about sitting next to my rambunctious, outgoing four-year-old grandson, my youngest, who is never still for a moment. Again I felt regret that my sister won't be able to interact with her grandchildren and take pleasure in a simple outing with them again and I was deeply reminded of how dear my grandchildren are to me.
Seeing the trees change with the end of one season and the beginning of another, I couldn't help thinking that the death of a loved one is also a change of season. Those of us who remain behind will see our lives change because of her absence. The change of season for her, I believe, is as dramatic and beautiful as the foliage changing from the green beauty of summer, to the vibrancy and colors of Autumn.