Going Gentle Into that Good Night

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There has been some rage, but there have been moments of perfect beauty too. I’m witnessing the end of my most respected era — respect for the generation that weathered the Depression, and World War II, and who rose like the phoenix from flames of lives that bore complete devastation of their dreams and plans. These are the people I admire most in this world — people who had the courage to dream in the face of grief and sorrow, people who had the audacity to lead second and even third lives on top of scorched foundations.

I should have expected that the end would be no less brave or strong. There’s a dignity in fighting tooth and nail, blood and tissue, to share one more moment with the people you love. This generation has mastered the art of the fight.

This generation has also mastered the art of pragmatism, of realizing when the odds are against you and the outcomes all completely stink. As I watch my grandmother fight her final battles, I am also observing my grandfather prepare to be alone in the most brave and honest way I could imagine a man saying goodbye. He does not want to her surrender, but he hates the idea of his love being in pain more than he fears being alone. And through it all, he stands mostly on his own, comforting his family in their grief.

There are moments of beauty. The laugh of surprise as we threaten to replace her IV bag with a good beer. The happiness of applying lip balm to abused tissues. The smile when we threaten to bring her tacos.

I love this woman, and I will miss her dearly when she is gone. These words are simply incapable of expressing the depths of my sorrow, and my gratefulness for her presence in my life. If I rage at anything, it is that the end should come with such indignity and pain — her proud spirit simply deserves a better ending.

Go sweetly and gently into the beloved night, Grandma Betty.

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