Aging Gracefully: The Communion of Saints

Billie Placey Aging Gracefully

The end of 2007 began a two-year period in which I experienced one loss right after the other. One of the first deaths was Billie Placey, a beloved grandmother in the Sunday morning Bible study class I was teaching. She was a beautiful, young, energetic woman, even in her 80’s. The aggressive cancer that gripped her seemed incongruous with her gentle, vibrant spirit. Immediately after her death and for some time following, her absence filled our classroom.

Here’s a piece I wrote the day she died. As I read it today, I was reminded of how very grateful I am for the communion of saints. I am indeed surrounded by a blessed, great crowd of witnesses.

The Sweet By and “Bye”

©2007 Aileen Mitchell Lawrimore

Tonight, Billie Placey left this world for the next; she died at hospice. I saw her yesterday for the last time. When I saw her, we talked about how wonderful heaven would be. “No more tears,” I said, my face close to hers. She smiled, drew a ragged breath, and shook her head, whispering, “No more tears.” “No more pain,” I said, and she echoed my words. “You’re going to be a brand new creation.” “Yes, I am,” she said, peaceful and assured.

And then she caught sight of Jack, standing at the foot of her bed, tears dripping from his nose, his chin. She looked at me and said, “I have a wonderful and gallant husband.”

 “Yes you do.”

 “I’m going to miss him,” she said, her face folding into a frown as Jack hurried to her side. She reached for him and they snuggled and kissed salty kisses, murmuring sweet everythings to each other.

Jack walked me out and showed me a picture of Billie when she was 18 or 20. “This is what she looked like when we got married,” he said. “It’d she beautiful?” (I’m not sure he saw the difference between that teenager in the picture and the octogenarian dying on the other side of the door.) We stood there, both of us crying. “I’m sorry, Jack, I’m not really holding it together for you today.”

“Well, honey that’s alright,” he said, taking off his glasses and wiping fresh tears on his sleeve before putting his glasses back on. “But, you know, we cry for ourselves. Cause Billie’s going to a better place. She’s going to be better than she’s ever been. She’s going to be great. We’re just crying for ourselves right now because there’s no point in crying for Billie. Billie’s going to be just fine.  I just wish I could go with her. . . .”


By Aileen MItchell Lawrimore

Aileen Mitchell Lawrimore is a mother x 3, wife x 35 (years not men), minister, speaker, writer, retreat leader, and lover of beagles and books. She has a lot to say.