Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Imperfect timing.

"She was up in age." 

"She had a full life." 

"At least it was peaceful."

I work in a hospital around sick people. As a result, I am near infirmary and death more than most people. A lot more.

I'm also 44 years old. Old enough to no longer have living grandparents without it seeming unusual. But in the grand scheme of grandparents and aging, we were fortunate. My last living grandparent, my maternal grandmother, passed away just shy of her 91st birthday.


The combination of seeing people navigate death and dying--and also living long enough to experience it with the elders in my life--has taught me one thing if nothing else: There is never a convenient time to lose someone that you truly, deeply love.

Particularly a beloved parent.

Sure. When health fails and independence is robbed, some piece of you knows that transitioning would mean less suffering. Depending upon your beliefs, you envision lively celestial reunions with loves of lives and dear ones who left too soon. And all of that seems mostly reasonable in your mind. Problem is, the heart is always late to get the memo. The loss is filtered through love's myopic view, which blurs the present and sees far into the past.

My grandmother's funeral wasn't terribly sad. Kind words were spoken and afterwards when we all retreated to her home, those aforementioned words were spoken repetitively. And I guess, a little bit, they felt quasi-comforting to utter but the reality was that no matter how up in age she was, how full her life had been, or even how peaceful her passing,  I'd never known a life without her in it.

I hadn't.

My grandma lived in Tuskegee, Alabama where we all went to college. My dear aunt took excellent care of her until the day she passed quietly in her sleep, and has since continued to live in the family home. This year, like always, I came over during my visit there for our college homecoming. When I walked inside, almost everything was the same. The same foods were on the counter, many of the same familiar faces and even the smell of my grandma's home hadn't left. The olfactory part was a comfort. But that was about it.

Immediately I had a strong urge to leave. My heart wasn't ready for that piece of my world to not include my grandmother and her high, tinkling laughter. Yes, my mind said those other things, but my heart was still far, far behind.

I knew my grandmother wouldn't live forever. But even when she passed, I realized that there is never a convenient time to begin a life without someone you deeply love in it. No matter how old or chronically ill. The finality of it feels suffocating in ways that can't be fully reconciled even with the strongest faith.

Someone special to me lost her mother today. She was up in age. She had a full life. And it was peaceful.

But regardless of all of that, somebody has lost her mother. And tonight, my heart is weeping for her and feeling sad. Because even though it may have been time, I know for certain that the time never seems to be right.



  1. This is beautiful Kimberly. Angella is in all of our hearts tonight. What a special tribute to her and her mom.

  2. Oh, Kimberly. This is a perfect post. It's just beautiful.

    1. I feel honored to be a part of this community. Don't you?

  3. Dear Kimberly, thank you. My heart is so full. My husband called and told me about this post. He said, "Did you see Grady doctor's post today. Your community is around you." It is such a blessing, you, all of us, what we have here. Lovelovelove

    1. I am astounded that you'd even take the time to leave this gracious note. This is so you. Your sweet husband is right. We are around you. No, we can't fix this but we can just stand next to you to remind you that we are here and caring for you. Lovelovelove right back at you.

      Your children, your husband and your niece have filled my thoughts, too. Please let them know that we are thinking of them as well.

  4. This is so true. There really is never a good time to lose someone. My mom's death was the result of a very long and painful battle with cancer. So many people told me that at least she's no longer in pain. Although that is so very true, I always felt like it diminished my right to grieve because I LOST MY MOTHER. So, no matter the reason, the timing, the whatever, there really is no perfect time for death. My thoughts and prayers are with your friend and her family as they adjust to their new normal.
    - Bridgette

  5. Love you, love that you wrote this, such sweet true words, love that dear Angella wrote back. My heart is full and my thoughts with our friend and her loved ones today.

  6. My mother died two years ago and I'm thankful that she is no longer suffering but I miss her still. Just last week I thought I would call her and then remembered.

  7. A beautiful and heart felt tribute that really shows the power of the blogging community. Keep on writing - your blog is one that makes me laugh and cry in equal measures :)

  8. I know the title of your post is Imperfect Timing, but in his own time, I needed to see this. I've been so busy with work and haven't had the time to stop by, but I took a few moments today and your beautiful words greeted me. This is truly timely, my very good girlfriend lost her Mom and I just got back in from the beautiful Memorial Service. She was your Soror, a Spelmanite and taught at a beloved HBCU here in the Birmingham area. As I sat and listened to all of the wonderful memories that were shared, I kept looking at my girlfriend and her sister, who no longer have a Mom here on earth with them. And she too was up in age, lived a full life and transitioned peacefully, but their new normal, will now be life without Mom.

    Kimberly, to your friend who lost her Mother, my thoughts and prayers are with her and her family. To you, thank you for sharing these beautiful words and your community, this is proof, we are not alone.


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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