My friend Deb and I knew that this could be our last visit with Pat. On the way to her house we cried together and Deb prayed for the right words. As we drove into the driveway, we somehow regained our composure. Her husband, sister, and brother-in- law stood by, as they had for the last few weeks, months, and years.
We entered her room and received a big smile, just like every other visit. But this time it was accompanied by tears. We hugged. We cried. We sobbed. We had been Lucy and Ethel for her every other time. But not this time.
We talked a bit about some favorite shared memories, how much we loved her and she loved us. Deb told Pat that she wanted to come back as a cardinal…only one who couldn’t sing. We giggled about that. Then Deb asked Pat what she would come back as. Without hesitation, she said, “A yellow finch bird.” She pointed to a lovely picture directly across from her bed of a yellow finch. Obviously she had given this some thought. Deb and I both knew we would be ever vigilant for yellow finches from that moment on.
We talked a little more, held hands as tears rolled down our cheeks. Finally Pat said, “I’m really tired now.” We told her we would sit for awhile after she fell asleep, and if we were gone when she awoke. we were gone physically but our love was with her forever.
She left us peacefully on a Tuesday morning.
Just a few hours later, Deb took her mother to a doctor’s appointment that had been scheduled the day before. Not her mother’s usual physician and not Deb’s either. Hanging on the wall was a calendar. Deb snapped a picture of it with her phone and immediately sent it to me in a text.
Rest in peace, Patty. You loved and were loved by so many. Your life was spent serving others and the Lord. We will all be watching for the yellow finch.