ON THE RUN-UP TO CHRISTMAS, we've had several sad events unfold near our home. First, an arthritic cat adopted us and was deemed so ill that our vet recommended putting her to sleep. Then a neighbour a few doors down died of a heart attack in his home. And now a steady parade of cars park outside our front door as an elderly man works his way through his final days of terminal cancer.
I remember my mother's final days, overlapping Christmas and Epiphany. I was glad to be with her in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, at her final breath. It was important to reconnect briefly with my four brothers--although we need to make time to see one another more frequently than at funerals.
As I watch Dylan (9) process all these moments, I think it's important that he is growing up in a culture where death is revered and respected as part of the family home. He's looking forward to standing with a Guard of Honour when the next hearse appears down our cul de sac.
[Bernie Goldbach is an Irish-American who returned to see his great uncle pass away in County Clare, Ireland.]