Posted by: scintillatingspeck | November 15, 2012


My father-in-law, Paul Hartley, died this morning.  It’s hard to know, moment to moment, how to feel.  Very sad, certainly.  Worried about those still living who loved him, and especially my mother-in-law who depended on him so much.  These waves of sadness and worry zoom suddenly into view, linger a while, suddenly recede as my attention snaps onto necessities (making Lily a sandwich, bringing in more wood for the stove).

Tonight, though, I want to focus on how grateful I feel.

Paul had a decent life, and a decent death, despite the period of uncertainty and anguish immediately following his heart attack almost three weeks ago.  He was a kind man who loved his family.  He played the piano beautifully; he adored his wife; he had a knack for uttering mystifying non sequiturs.  He loved music and had the joy of teaching it and being an accompanist for decades.  He was a fine grandfather to my child and a good father to my husband.  He was instrumental in causing my husband and my child to exist at all.  At the end of his life, he had the good fortune of finally being able to express his wishes about not wanting further aggressive treatment, and had some time to be alert, reasonably comfortable, talking, surrounded by family, reminiscing.  Death came soon after, allowing him release.

The gratitude expands further.  I’m sitting here, alive as can be.  I won’t always be alive.  What a way to appreciate being here now.  I have a cup of lavender tea, a ridiculously fluffy and affectionate cat, my sparkling child is sleeping upstairs, my husband wears his grief with grace.  The fire in the stove is glowing and there is plenty of wood for the winter.  My body is whole.  I have words and I can use them.  All the things I don’t want left unsaid, I can say them.

I will keep opening my heart until the curtains fall on my life.  No matter where or how that happens, no matter if I’m alone and in the dark, I will know which arms I lie in.



  1. How heart-warming, thank you!

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