I hold her hand. It’s my turn. We do it in shifts. We know she is going soon.
“Walter came to me last night,” she said last week. My father, her first child and her only son, is already there, on the other side of the thinness, waiting. I have grown used to living without him. The grief has subsided into a gentle loneliness. But I still miss him, especially when the veil seems so paper-thin.
Subdued noises filter through the doorway from the living room. From the room where the living wait. My grandmother is not aware. Or is she? Do we know what people hear when they’re hovering between these two worlds? Perhaps she hears more than I do. Perhaps she hears things on both sides of the thinness.
I hear a sob. It’s my aunt Mary Ann. This is hardest on her, because she believes it is the end. I know it’s not. So does my grandmother. She settled her future years ago and now approaches it with anticipation. The real living will begin for her when she is gone from this place.
I look once more at her quiet face. I wonder if each breath will be her last.
One inhaled breath. Before it leaves her body, a vibrating hum sings from her hand into mine. I know, before it’s time, that the next breath will not come.
My father has taken her other hand. I feel his life flowing through her, touching me, loving me. Through the thinness I feel the touch of eternity.