Darlene called me early this morning with news that Bev had just died. Darlene and Beverly lived together their whole lives - and with their brother Earl until he died several years ago. When they were young, Beverly would leave for work first each morning. She would call from the doorway, "This is the day that the Lord has made." Her siblings would reply, "We will rejoice and be glad in it."
It has been a difficult 18 months - since Beverly moved into a care center. Darlene has grown both weary and resilient through these daily treks back and forth. Like many caregivers, she has poured her whole self into this bedside role and seeing Bev decline this week has been a mixed bag of dread and relief.
I changed into a black pencil skirt before heading down Lake Street toward the Carlson sisters. This would be the last time I would see them together. I turned north on 11th Avenue, forgetting that it dead ends just a few blocks up and I have to wander west in search of a thru street to Franklin. I have made this mistake several times since February 2014 and find myself on the corner of 10th and 26th when raw emotions overwhelm me and I start weeping. Every time.
That is the last stoplight on the way to the Mother Baby Center at Abbott. Sitting at that light brings me back to the early mornings right after unleashing my daughters. I would coo to Solveig in the backseat, assuring her that we'd see her sister at Children's in a matter of minutes. I would take a deep breath for strength as the opposite lights turned from green to yellow:
You can carry all of this stuff in there.
You can own that space next to Tove, even though you feel like a visitor.
You can feed your babies, even if the lactation consultant fails to come again today.
You are doing the best you can.
You are helping them be together in a new way today and that is a worthy mission.
Sitting at that light still makes me weak in the knees, overcome by my unraveled life that is now...normal. Their birth and those daily treks first felt like a jar of marbles dropped and scattered. Waiting at that intersection confirmed again that my marbles are still strewn about - that my heart is still beating in my own chest, but also toddling around in Tove's and snuggled up inside Solveig's. My arms were covered in goose bumps and my eyes welled with raw love-soaked tears.
I pulled over until I could compose myself. This morning was about a different set of Carlson sisters, but something would be familiar: I got to help them be together in a new way today and that was a worthy mission.
When Bev's body was ready to leave her room, friends and staff gathered to walk alongside her. "It's called a butterfly sending - a chance for everyone to accompany her well from this place to the next." Darlene smiled with gratitude as her marbles slowly scattered about beneath us. Everything was unraveling for her as we moved outside and Bev rode away.
Not ending. Just scattering and unraveling.
Just becoming something wildly different.
Just daring to live anew.
Just daring to live anew.