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Vieraskieliset / In-english

Blog: For the last time

Vieraskieliset / In-english
29.6.2021 16.20

Juttua muokattu:

29.6. 16:17

There are many last ti­mes in hu­man life. They in­vol­ve great joy and ex­pec­ta­ti­ons, but of­ten al­so pain and lon­ging.

"Yip­pee! I will ne­ver need to come back to this school!" This may be the fee­ling of a yo­ung stu­dent on the day of le­a­ving school or gra­du­a­ting with a pro­fes­si­o­nal dip­lo­ma.

Pa­rents with a nos­tal­gic mind want to give their last ad­vi­ce to a child get­ting mar­ried.

We of­ten say that a pro­ject is ful­ly comp­le­ted. A knit­ter fas­tens off the thre­ads, a buil­der brus­hes the last stro­kes of paint. A child draws a card and wri­tes his gree­tings on it. To comp­le­te his pro­ject, he ma­kes a big round full stop with his cra­yon and looks proud­ly at his work. It is re­a­dy now.

Those who left their ho­mes to es­ca­pe the war knew they were loo­king at their ho­mes and home vil­la­ges for the last time.

I re­mem­ber many last ti­mes in my own life. On my last day of work be­fo­re re­ti­re­ment, I en­jo­yed a lunch of French fish that I lo­ved. There was the backg­round mu­sic of fa­mi­li­ar school noi­se: clat­ter and loud exc­la­ma­ti­ons. I was gra­te­ful for both my ye­ars as a te­ac­her and my new­ly gai­ned free­dom.

Life chan­ges af­ter each last time. So­met­hing new co­mes in place of what is lost.

My mot­her knew that her il­l­ness was far ad­van­ced and she on­ly had a short time left. She wan­ted to vi­sit one more time her home area in Nort­hern Ka­re­lia to say good­bye to the fa­mi­li­ar vil­la­ge and her sis­ters and brot­hers. It was a thought-pro­vo­king trip. We could not know that, one day af­ter our re­turn, we would lose our fat­her qui­te unex­pec­ted­ly.

Soon af­ter that we vi­si­ted a friend’s fa­mi­ly, where the mot­her was very lo­ne­so­me for her el­dest daugh­ter, who had gone on a trip to Ame­ri­ca. Such long-dis­tan­ce tra­vel was yet not com­mon at that time. “What if so­met­hing bad hap­pens, and she is so far away from home!" she fret­ted. I re­mem­be­red a sa­ying my mot­her had used: ”Men come back from ac­ross the oce­an, but not from un­der the ground.” That was a com­for­ting sa­ying that came from pro­found per­so­nal ex­pe­rien­ce.

My mot­her’s strength con­ti­nu­ed to fail. One day in De­cem­ber my sis­ter and I hel­ped her have a sho­wer. She said to me, “This is my last sho­wer. Next time I will be was­hed dif­fe­rent­ly.”

I was­hed her, spread some lo­ti­on on her skin, cut her nails. Af­ter that, sit­ting in a wheelc­hair, she wan­ted to go round our home, say good­bye to each room and re­mi­nis­ce. She loo­ked at the li­ving-room tab­le and said, “You will soon have a lot of white flo­wers.”

Though I felt te­ars stin­ging in my ey­es, her con­fi­den­ce brought light in­to that day.

On­ly a few days la­ter my mot­her pas­sed away. We did have a lot of white flo­wers in our li­ving-room.

I have so­me­ti­mes won­de­red how a per­son feels when they are told they on­ly have a short time left. It can be months, weeks, or even days. I have al­so dis­cus­sed this with some pe­op­le. Many say they would like to le­a­ve ”with their boots on”, as the Fin­nish sa­ying goes. Yet many of those who have lost a dear one say that it was good to have time to get re­a­dy for the loss. They were gi­ven a pos­si­bi­li­ty to pre­pa­re for the loss and to dis­cuss im­por­tant mat­ters. Too many of us may re­a­li­ze too late that they have mis­sed the op­por­tu­ni­ty to speak about im­por­tant things, or even to set­t­le pain­ful mat­ters.

When I have been told about the de­ath of a friend or ac­qu­ain­tan­ce, I have re­mem­be­red many sha­red ex­pe­rien­ces. I of­ten think about our last mee­ting. In my mind I see that per­son, hear his or her voi­ce. It has even hap­pe­ned that we have ag­reed about a next mee­ting that I have been loo­king for­ward to. De­ath is such an unex­pec­ted and un­wel­co­me vi­si­tor that it has med­d­led with our plan.

I have known mot­hers who have been weak with il­l­ness, but have en­cou­ra­ged their child­ren to go on with their li­ves. They have known it is bet­ter to live the last ti­mes to­get­her in a way that le­a­ves po­si­ti­ve me­mo­ries rat­her than on­ly me­mo­ries of a sick and mourn­ful mot­her.

Would it be good, if one still has the strength, to live the last days of one’s life by doing so­met­hing that one es­pe­ci­al­ly li­kes? I would love to go to some dear pla­ces in na­tu­re, to watch the glint of the sun on wa­ter, a me­a­dow of wild flo­wers, the fo­rest, the star­ry sky over a snow-co­ve­red lands­ca­pe. I would like to meet the pe­op­le I love. And if pos­sib­le, I would like to talk about the most im­por­tant thing, the thing I have been most gra­te­ful for.

We can con­ti­nue to live a full life un­til the end. I re­mem­ber Mar­tin Lut­her’s words: ”If I knew I were to die to­mor­row, I would plant an ap­p­le tree to­day.”

Most of all, I would like to re­mind eve­ry­bo­dy about the im­por­tant thing that will car­ry us sa­fe­ly in­to eter­ni­ty.

Even though we may have many pe­op­le around us, we need to open the last gate alo­ne. For that we on­ly need faith of the he­art.

Text: Ai­li Pa­sa­nen

Trans­la­ti­on: Sirk­ka-Lii­sa Lei­no­nen


Herra on kuningas! Riemuitkoon maa, iloitkoot meren saaret ja rannat! Pilvi ja pimeys ympäröi häntä, hänen istuintaan kannattavat vanhurskaus ja oikeus. Ps. 97:1–2

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