I received a call one afternoon from a woman wanting to talk about end of life plans. She requested I come see her as soon as possible, so that afternoon I drove through beautiful Hill Country and arrived at a sprawling estate nestled into the hillside. She had instructed that I enter without knocking, and head directly to the left wing of the home where I would meet with her at her bedside. As I approached the front doors of the home, I was in awe of the elegantly twisted wrought iron and heavy wood. I almost felt intimidated by their size, and took a deep breath before ever so gently tapping to announce my arrival and turning the oversized knob to enter the domain.
The entry hall was as elegant as you could imagine, and led into a large living space with floor to ceiling windows. I didn’t dally to take in the view, but purposefully made a left hand turn to proceed down the corridor to a door that seemed miles away. A lady in a cleaning uniform rapidly appeared and passed me by, smiling, but said not a word and quickly disappeared into another room. Upon opening the bedroom door, my eyes fell upon a thin, beautiful woman, propped up on an abundance of pillows, laying in a plush four poster bed. She turned her head to welcome me, and invited me to pull up a chair at her bedside.
She began to tell me her story… she had only recently been diagnosed with cancer at the age of 60. She had been told she had months left, and wanted to have her arrangements in place so her only child would not be left with the burden of making the decisions alone. Conversation flowed easily, as if we were old friends, and we began to share stories about our pets; her two golden retrievers, and my kitty. On her bedside table she proudly showed me two small wooden urns, each containing one of her beloved best friends. She expressed her desire to be cremated as well, and have her urn buried in the same plot above her mother’s casket. She told me where her favorite little black dress was hanging in the closet, and then inquired if I wouldn’t mind gathering up a bag of incidentals to place with her dress since we were already planning her exit look; like undergarments, her favorite Louis Vuittons, some costume jewelry, and her signature lipstick. Once I had gathered the items she requested, I placed the duffle bag at the foot of the dress in the closet and joined her again at her bedside.
As I began typing in final arrangement details and notes into my macbook, her hand reached out and touched mine, causing me to pause. She had one more important question… she thought it was silly, and she was almost afraid to ask. I put my laptop on the floor, placed my hand on hers and looked her in the eyes. “Ask me anything.”
Four weeks to the day later, I received the call she had passed. I felt my chest tighten as recognition of the name being recited to me by the hospice nurse sank in. I immediately headed to the home, and mentally ran through the checklist she and I had discussed merely a month before. Upon my arrival, I gathered the slinky black dress and the duffle bag of incidentals from the closet. Together, her nurse and I silently dressed her, moving softly and fluidly, almost like a dance. Just before leaving the bedroom, I stopped, and as requested on that day we met, I took the two urns of her precious dogs off the nightstand and nestled them into the crook of her arms.
Per her desires, she was cremated with her beloved dogs, and their cremated remains were, as she put it, “Together, furever”.