The word went out.
No more surgeries. No more chemo.
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Those who loved her best gathered around her bed on the mountain. Husband. Daughters. Sons. The women who would tend her for the days ahead. They told stories of growing up and growing old with her. She thanked each person by name.
They looked from her window to the ocean below. Clouds scudded past, the fog fell on the mountain and by mid-afternoon, on the best days, the sun burned the fog away, rhythms of wind made visible on the forest.
For two weeks two women cooked. In ones and twos, each sat by her bed, offered water, played the music she loved. Her husband rested with her and retold stories they each knew by heart. Her daughter did her hair.
She dimmed and then she rallied and laughed. Then a deeper dimming. Each person witnessed a different sunset from her grand window to the sea, sun-fire slipped into a cloud layer, a brief flash on the ocean as the sun went to Japan.
When death came upon her, a smile on her lips, they were ready. The women bathed her in herbal oils, wiped her with white towels and wrapped her in silk rainbow shawls. A photographer took pictures. Her husband hit the deep metal gongs on the front porch as the women carried her up the stairs.
Four times I wrote of her journey, how she would sail on the waters to the setting sun.
Though Death seldom wishes to be welcome, gestures, rituals, and devotions may make it so.