Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds…and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of… High Flight by John Gillespie Magee Jr
On Wednesday evening, July 3, 2013, a beautiful summer evening, at 6:23, my beloved wife slipped the surly bonds of earth. She died very peacefully at home, where she was cared for by her two daughters, Emily and Clair, her brother, Pete and me, with the help of hospice workers and an army of friends and family.
Les had an amazing last few weeks. She knew she only had days to live and, although she was dramatically weaker every day, she continued to meet with friends and share her most heartfelt love and gratitude for the wonderful life she’d led. She told the hospital chaplain:
“I’ve had a good life. I’m ready. I trust in the process, the flow. Little fishes die, big trees die, who am I not to die, too? Abraham Lincoln did it, my mother did it, my neighbor did it, I can do it too.”
I learned so much about living and dying from Les and I’m grateful for the incredible opportunity of helping her through these challenges. As with any relationship, we had our troubles but the last four years have been the happiest of my life and made more so because Les felt the same.
These last weeks were both terrible and wonderful. Les had a beautiful death, conscious and focused, accepting and grateful, loving and compassionate. Dying is hard work but I can’t imagine a better death than Leslie’s.
Leslie was my muse. I did everything with her in mind. It’s difficult not to slide into the mire of self pity but Les was too good an example of accepting one’s fate to allow that to happen. She will live on in my heart until it stops.
Many years ago, Leslie wrote a song for a friend who was dying of brain cancer. I share it here -> The River <- click to play
Please visit Leslie’s long neglected WordPress page, for a little more information about her and to listen to her music