This is the 4th of a 5 part series of posts that disclose my personal experience with the familiar saying: 'when someone comes into your life for a season, there's always a reason.'
I wasn't with Celia when she died.
In fact, if Celia's former roomate, Mary, hadn't called to let me know, I wouldn't have found out until my next visit to the hospital, or maybe through the newspaper obituaries. The 18 months that I spent developing a caring relationship with Celia counted for nothing; I wasn't family, so no one was obligated, or had even bothered, to notify me when she died.
Her obituary was short and non-descript. Except for Bert and his nephew, no other family members were named. I made note of where her body was resting and the hours for visitation, then closed the newspaper with a sigh.
On the appointed visitation day I left work early and went alone to visit Celia for the last time. The funeral home was silent and eeriely deserted. Not even an employee was anywhere to be seen. I walked into the room where her body rested, but no one was there to greet me.
I stood beside the casket and stared down at her. It was obvious that her bright print dress was brand new and had never been worn before. There was a rosary wrapped in her fingers and I smiled when I saw the only piece of jewellery she wore - the bangle bracelet I'd bought her for Christmas. The pain lines that had been etched into her face the last time I saw her were now smoothed away, and with her eyes closed gently as if sleeping, she no longer needed to wear the gauze bandage over her missing left eye. "Nothing can hurt you now," I whispered as I turned away. On the way out, I picked up a pen to sign the guest book. There was only one other name there, which I recognized as Bert's nephew.
As I climbed into my truck to head home, I wondered again how and why I'd been drawn into this unhappy saga. Why had I been destined to be so deeply involved in the final days of a tiny woman named Celia? She was simply a stranger who had come into my life, almost against my will, stayed a short season and changed me completely.
It would be 8 more years before I knew the reason.
To be continued....