From the first cup of coffee we shared, my mother-in-law became my best friend. She used to call us and tell my husband, "you watch the baby, and I’m going to fly Sharon up here for the weekend so we can go to "Music Circus." This was a series of off-Broadway productions. She loved music and concerts. We attended several together.
When she retired at 75 we brought her to live with us –healthy and happy. We have a guest apartment at the end of the hall. Frequently, I’d be marching down the hall with two cups of something to share with her, and meet her carrying two cups.
Less than a year later, she was diagnosed with cancer. We turned her room into a hospital room, replete with hospital bed, portable toilet, etc. Pancreatic cancer is a quick killer. She was becoming weaker and could no longer get out or fbed.
I brought her a cup of water and remembered all the cups we had shared: the cup of laughter watching "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," the cup of excitement when she helped us purchase the house we would all live in; the cup of fear as we received her prognosis: "you’re going to die" from a disgruntled oncologist. But this night we would share a cup of tenderness.
My husband and son had gone to a movie. I picked up a John Michael Talbot tape "Come to the Quiet" and tiptoed into her room.
"Jeanne, are you awake?"
"Yes," she said, "I’m awake, why?"
"Well, since we can’t go to a concert, we’re going to have one here."
I put on the tape and climbed into bed with her. The soft guitar and soothing voice of John Michael brought a sweet presence and wrapped us together in peace. I held her like a mother cradles an infant.
As she looked up at me and smiled, I realized that this was not the end, but the beginning. Life as we know it is really the womb, and very soon she would be thrust into the light to begin her new life. This was our last concert together.
Sometimes when I miss her, I’ll pick up a lovely cup that she gave me and drink my tea from the cup of remebrance, sweetened with hope and stirred with longing.