Yesterday I drove north to visit E., my friend who is dying of metastatic breast cancer. I called last week to leave a message of love. She had sent some email. Then on Tuesday the phone rang! When E. calls, I go running.
We had a long visit together. We sat on the couch for a while, then went outside to look at her garden. Many of their friends spent a weekend getting the garden into shape so that E. and her family could enjoy spring's blossoming. Her husband mounted a guardian angel (a gift from a friend) to look over the garden, and the angels bears a plaque saying "Mom's Garden." I think it gives E. comfort to know that the earth's cycle of birth, fruitfulness and death is going on all around her.
Afterwards we snuggled up on the bed and talked about some really hard stuff, the things very few people are able to discuss. Topping the list of questions is, what happens after I die? E. and I agree that by nature, we human beings aren't equipped to know the answer.
E. heard from an oncology chaplain that some people achieve enlightenment and move on to a special place; others don't get the message here on earth and have to "repeat the course"; and some come back to set an example for others. And of course many people believe in a traditional heaven (and hell).
I think that what counts is the life we lead here. Our example of how we live becomes the legacy we leave for those who know us.