by Jenny Edgerley
Baileys with ice
Death checked her reflection in the mirror. She adjusted her necklace and pushed a stray hair behind her ear. Satisfied, she made her way to her first meeting of the day, Daffodil Care Home on Roman Street. She liked these visits. The residents were always pleased to see her, many of them having waited a long time for her arrival. There was always a story to tell before they left their life.
Today, Death was visiting Mabel. Mabel was 86 and had lived at the care home for twelve years. She had been patient waiting for her turn, watching so many friends leave before her. Mabel was feeling every one of her years and had become so tired of her meaningless life.
When Death arrived, the receptionist didn’t notice her, which was just how it should be. She was always hidden in plain sight. She often thought how amazed people would be if they knew how close they had been to Death. Death made her way to Mabel’s room and gently knocked on the door.
Mabel greeted Death warmly. “Hello dear, come in, come in.”
“Good morning Mabel. How are you?” Death asked.
“Better for seeing you, my dear. I’m assuming you have come for me at last?” Mabel asked expectantly.
“Yes, I’m here for you. I hope that’s ok?” Death asked, guilt pricking her conscience as it always did.
“Oh yes, dear. More than ok. I’ve waited for a long time to meet you so I’m very pleased to see you at last. I’m ready to go now, dear, I’m so tired and my health isn’t what it used to be. I’ll be less of a burden to my family if I’m not around,” Mabel said tearfully. “Tell me dear, what happens to me now?”
When Death had finished explaining, Mabel said “Can I ask you a question before I go?”
“Of course,” replied Death. It wasn’t unusual for people to have questions at this stage.
“Why do you do it? You are such a lovely young lady. There must be a better life for you than this?” asked Mabel with interest. Death was surprised. No one had ever asked her such a personal question before.
“It’s my calling and always has been. I do it because I want to make a difference to the end of people’s lives. The time of passing can be very frightening, and I try to make it as peaceful as possible. I think I am very lucky.” A single tear fell down Death’s cheek. “It doesn’t mean it’s always easy. I have witnessed horrific things over my time, terrible tragedies, heart-breaking events but I’m always there to make passing a safe and calm experience regardless of the circumstances that brought us together.”
“I remember when my Doug passed. He had been in such pain for weeks but during those precious moments before he died, he was so peaceful. That was you, wasn’t it? You were there with him?” asked Mabel.
“Yes, he was a lovely man and so grateful. You're right. He was in pain but us meeting meant the pain left him. He was ready to pass but heartbroken to leave you behind. He asked me to take you too so you could stay together but I’m afraid it doesn’t work like that. We are here for as long as we need to be. We only meet when it's your time,” answered Death fondly.
“And will I see him again when it’s over?” asked Mabel, with tears and hope in her eyes.
“You will. He has been waiting for you all these years,” said Death. “And now it is your time. Close your eyes, Mabel and hold my hand.”
“Thank you dear, thank you so much” replied Mabel faintly as she faded away.
After a few moments, Death stood up, leaned over and kissed Mabel on the forehead before silently leaving the room, heading to her next meeting.