It had been a good day, the Feast of the Assumption two years ago. My wife and I were in Portland, Maine, taking care of my sister, who had late stage four cancer. She was feeling better than she had since she found out she had cancer five months earlier, most of which I’d spent with her.
My wife and I went to Mass at St. Anne’s around the corner, checked on my sister, who told us to go out. She was looking forward to an afternoon by herself, just puttering around her home. She even stood up, unsteadily, and shooed us out, flipping her arms up with her palms down, as if she was sending cows out of the barn.
It was such a lovely day we drove into the city. We went to an historical museum and then walked along the beach at the end of Portland. We went home, checked on my sister, who shooed us out again, and went to dinner in a nice brewpub a few blocks from her home. She asked us to bring her a bowl of their onion soup. After dinner, my wife and sister walked around the neighborhood, my sister pushing her walker, as they nattered on about this and that. I could see them from the front window, laughing.
A near perfect day, even given the reason we were in Portland. My sister died less than three weeks later. In the midst of life we are in death. I try to remember this, to help myself treasure what good things I’ve been given.
David Mills is the Editor of Hour of Our Death. His other Hour of Our Death article about his sister’s death can be found here. Here’s the story of his sister’s last day, with links to other articles he wrote about her, and a later reflection here.