Terry Teachout’s Long Goodbye

Terry Teachout on the death of his mother:

As always, I threw myself into work in order to stave off despair. Going to the theater three or four nights a week was as good a way as any to keep my mind occupied, but in between shows I thought the same blunt, ugly thoughts that had come to me at odd moments ever since December. What do I do if she starts to fail while my play is in rehearsal? What’s the closest airport to Lenox? What if it happens on the morning of the dress rehearsal? Or on opening night? I drew up a string of increasingly far-fetched travel options, blithely ignoring the old saying I’d quoted a thousand times: if you want to hear God laugh, make a plan.

Read the rest, but be warned: have a tissue at the ready. Every word is true, and Teachout brought me right back to the experience of terrible beauty and intense reality that came during my brother’s passing, right down to the astonishing, healing work of a funeral director.

Although I do not revisit them often, these are not bad memories. They’re beautiful memories. Even the pain is beautiful, because we consented to experience it together, and invited God in, too.

Yes, terrible, awful beauty.

Thanks to Joseph Susanka for the Teachout Tip.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Michael

    This reminds me of my Mom’s passing about 18 months ago. Much like Terry’s mom, mine went through quite a long struggle but in her case when she decided to come to my home on hospice she lived only one week. Just as her will to battle and live for many years with her illness sustained her, it was if when she no longer wanted to fight, she willed her self to death. But I will say it was a most beautiful and inspiring week. First, she told us as only an Irish mother

  • Michael

    (sorry hit the sent button in error) So as an Irish mother she told us to get over ourselves when she said she no longer wanted to fight. But she added that she had a most blessed life and how could she ever complain now. During her last day, she was in and out of consciousness and for the last several hours was not responsive. Then, just a few moments before she died, she opened her eyes and looked at each person in the room. And then one of the most remarkable and mystical experiences that I ever had or will ever had occurred. She looked above us to one side, eyes still open, she smiled and 3 times very clearly said, “love you, love you, love you”. She closed her eyes and slipped into eternity. I don’t know who or what she saw, but it brought her great peace and I often think of it. Thanks for sharing this story.

  • Kathleen

    This expressed things I have been living for several years and can’t verbalized. Thank you.

  • Win Nelson

    Thank you, this is beautiful.

  • Mila

    Terrible beauty and intense reality indeed! It’s made me re-live my husband’s last moments, much similar to Terry’s mother, even to the fact that his eyes would not close after death. But yes, they are beautiful memories, because God, who is Love, held us together until the end. And so, yes, even the pain is beautiful.