Monday, June 20, 2011

Letting Go of Her

This time visiting my mother has turned into a drawn out contemplation on impermanence and grief.

Mourning the way I saw her last time six months ago, when she was still able to accompany us for dinners out at La Roseraie, our lovely hotel. Mourning her still walking. Mourning her still joining in our conversations. Mourning her talking for the hundredth time about our old farm. 'I have a beautiful house. Two cellars, three gardens. Isn't it something?" Mourning her getting drunk on one too many glasses of the local wine, the same one her father used to make. Mourning her getting excited about the dresses I bought her at the local market. Mourning her delighting in my daughters' successes at school. Mourning her, or rather the idea of her I had stored in my mind.

Time has brought a new version of her, foretelling the end near.


My mother has joined the realm of the 'sitting' people. In her mind, she can still walk, and wonders why the physical therapist is coming to help her stand and make a few steps. Seeing her in a wheelchair was quite a shock. Never mind that I work all day in an assisted living community with folks like her, many in wheelchairs. This is my mother . . . We sit with her at lunch, and encourage her to eat. "I am not hungry anymore."She takes in a few of the bites I give her, and then that's it. She is done. Her appetite is leaving her. 

Inside, I get into a tug of war between grief welling up, and awareness of the truth of impermanence, so easy to see in this situation. And I sit with her and my daughter, and I choose to appreciate this moment. Sitting, being breathed, with two of my most dear people. 

12 comments:

  1. Thinking of you dear Marguerite. Much love.

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  2. This journey can be so difficult. I found it helpful to think of my Dad in terms of who he was becoming and what was I suppose to learn from this new person. I believe that Mourning and sadness of what was is a way of recognising the beautiful connection of spirit between people. But this places our thoughts in the past. The beautiful challenge is staying connected when the person can only offer a physical presence, which taught me to bring life experiences to my Dad that he could not obtain on his own, and to enter into his world of quiet observance/awareness in order to appreciate his very "here and now"existence.... And the connection of spirit returned.

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  3. Thank you so much for this post. My mother had a massive brain aneurysm in 1990 and suffered a great deal of brain damage. She was never able to walk again, nor to speak in ways that were easily understood. She had to wear a diaper, and needed 24 hour care. She lived for almost 17 more years - for much of that time, I felt I had "lost" my mother - at times I felt ashamed of her (and her appearance, with food stains and so on), at times I avoided her. It was only truly in the final year, after she was diagnosed with lung cancer, that I was able to be with her in a different way. I visited more often, I sat quietly with her, I showed her pictures on my computer and we talked about the people we love, I listened to her as she told me over and over about my father (who had just died) and how she loved him. Sometimes she would hold me as she had when I was a little girl - and her grasp was a firm mother-bear grasp. On the final night before she died, I hopped into her hospital bed with her, and sang to her while we waited for the morphine to take effect. I was finally able to be with her, fully, this woman, my mother.
    Thank you for sharing your experience of mourning.
    Katherine

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  4. this is a hard place, undeniably and yet your ability to appreciate it's nuances is formidable. so often we just lump it into one big picture of sadness. the fruits of your practice are sparkling.

    much metta to you, your mom and daughter.

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  5. thank you Katherine #1 . . . what a gift, receiving your kindness!

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  6. Katherine #2, thank you so much for sharing your story. So human, so beautiful. A tale of deep love with all its meanders . . .

    In gratitude,

    marguerite

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  7. sg, yes of course. To get to the place you describe however, sometimes requires going through many thoughts, many emotions, and hindrances . . .

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  8. ZenDot (Carole), yes, many colors, many nuances, many places of the heart to visit and revisit. And beneath it all the riverbed of wisdom, flowing, taking away the impurities of mind and heart. With mindfulness to embrace the whole experience.

    Life presenting with many opportunities to practice. Everything magnified, making it easier for one to see.

    Much metta, dear.

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  9. Marguerite, I've gone away and come back a couple of times trying to think of something to say. All I can add to these beautiful comments is some more love and best wishes to you both.

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  10. Thank you so much, David, for your kindness. It went straight to my heart.

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  11. Sending metta blessings to you and your mother Marguerite at this time of letting go and transitioning...what a gift that you were able to visit, to be as present as possible with her while you were there beside her. I'm sure she felt your love even if she wasn't clear minded all of the time. Precious moments, even if they were painful.

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  12. Thank you Laura. And yes, indeed!

    By the way, I passed on your blog info to one of my friends who is starting an online consumer health social media company. I am a huge fan of your blog!

    With loving kindness,

    marguerite

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