|'At the Death Bed' by Edvard Munch|
1895 Public domain
What is this need I feel to receive a deathbed blessing?
On my mother’s deathbed, I took her limp and almost lifeless hand,
placing it on my head, begging her blessing, translating her incoherent,
mumbled words into the final benediction I longed for, while all the while
my tears washed away my past and cleansed me for an uncertain future.
The same thing happened when my husband lay dying, unspeaking,
eyes closed, unconscious to my eyes though I knew his soul heard.
Kneeling by his bed, I took his hand, placed it on my head, and heard
in my heart the words I yearned to hear with my ears, words of love
he would willingly have voiced, had he been able.
The deathbed blessing feels visceral and universal to me, ancient
ritual since the beginnings of humanity, since the mudding of early
dwellings, the first harvest of grain and grapes, a cycle of death and
resurrection as endless as time itself, the blessing perhaps a symbol
of our own final harvest and transformation.