After our days with Grandmother, with Mom and Dad, walking, waiting, comforting however possible, we had to face leaving. I knew it was going to be hard. It's never easy leaving family, saying a last goodbye, until next time. And this time would be almost impossibly hard, more final than other visits. Maria and I took a night shift, our last night in Albany, and Grandmother's first night in hospice. We shared a pull-out, and sometimes we were able to speak with Grandmother, and a couple of times listen to her share fragments of stories, recollections. We had golden moments, and we saw the certainty of the transition she was making. I woke every hour, when she called my name, when the kind aides came into change her position. I wrote everything down... a record in details, a chronicle of the night, a means of holding on.
As I knew it would be difficult to say when, to pull ourselves away, and be at the airport, the next leg of our return home, I deliberately defined our exit and our own transition back to daily life. I set aside a day, before the flight, to visit Portland, to treat Maria to pretty sights, and familiar, happy places, to distract ourselves and balance our emotions. Somehow, we packed, somehow we said goodbye. I squared my shoulders, shared last hugs, and aimed our rental north, with the single-minded purpose of pursuing joyful, pure distraction.