Letting the soul leave

Someone must open a window so the soul can leave.

I saw a commercial on television the other day showing the outside of a house at night with a light shining from an upstairs window and a feeble older voice saying, “Open a window so the soul can leave.” Then there was a voice-over about nurses and nursing care. At the end of the commercial you see a figure move to the window and gently close it. A different, younger and stronger voice says, “Not tonight.”

For at least another night, with the help of the nurse, life has won and death has been defeated.

It made me think of my sister Annie, and the evening not so very long ago when death won.

Did your soul leave while your little body remained, not seeing, not responding, not moving save for burdened breaths?

Or was your soul watching later with you and I, alone in the room, your visible pulse fluttering through your neck,  slowing to one, two, three strong heartbeats, stopping? Was your soul there with me then?

Was your soul watching as we each said good-bye to your still body, leaving the room one by one, save for Mom who stayed with the nurse, gently bathing your body one last time? Did you hover about?

Did you sneak out the door when they came with the gurney? Or did you stay to watch, everyone huddled behind closed doors while they zipped your body into a bag?

Did you watch as they unzipped the bag for me to check details, reassuring Mom that you lied on your stomach with your legs slightly bent, your ankles crossed, your right leg over your left?

Was your soul looking for a way out? Were you waiting to leave?

Did you fly out the door when they rolled the gurney away, your body zipped up tight, David and J.D. accompanying it to the hearse like an honor guard? Did you fly away when the door opened, or did  your soul stay to watch?

Did you stay and linger with us a while as we went through the motions in the days that followed of things needing to be done?

Was your soul waiting in your empty room when I returned to it, time and again,  still feeling your presence there?

How long did your soul stay? Did it quietly slip away later, after we’d dropped our vigil?

When did your soul leave?

It’s gone.

Diane Louise Smith "Annie" May 17, 1958 - August 16, 2009