Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Not Her Keeper

These days spent at the hospital with my mother are so intense. Yesterday, I looked into her eyes, several times, and we locked in, and I smiled and I reminded her it was me, and she smiled back, to tell me her happiness. She liked it when I played her favorite tunes, songs she used to sing all the time before her stroke. And she surprised me when she reached out for a magazine. I found myself starting to hope. 

Then came the dinner tray, and she did not make it past the first spoonful of the green puree. Same with the yogurt, and the applesauce. I asked the nurse, and she could not give me any reassurance. Yes, it could mean the end is near, or not. 

Today, I arrived to find her lying in bed and hooked up to a monitor, eyes closed and seemingly in pain with a frozen frown on her face. I was told her heart had gone to 150 in the morning and she was under close watch again. She did not acknowledge my presence. Her roommate was screaming for her children to come and take her. I thought, how incredibly stressful this must be for my mother to be subjected to so much. And I realized there was nothing to do, other than sit by her side, hold her hand, and remind her often that I was there with her. 

Ayya Khema says this about love: 

My attachment and my fear can only have a negative influence on my love. My children do not belong to me; they belong to themselves. I'm not their keeper, any more than they are my keepers. We are linked to each other, but not bound to each other - that is a huge difference. 
~ from I Give You My Life

Ayya Khema is referring to her children, but the same goes with our parents. I have been watching grief take hold in my body, a very physical sensation akin to being torn apart, literally. The stronger the bond, the more painful the parting, and there is certainly no stronger tie than between mother and child. It goes both ways. I am grateful for the practice to point me in the right direction. I am to feel the grief, fully, and relax around it, giving it space, and guarding the mind from adding more. My mother needs me to be at peace, and free from the anxiety of anticipated loss.


  1. I understand. I lost my mom 9 months ago.
    Mindfully Grieving.
    May all beings be at ease.

  2. Marguerite, your words are strength to us with whom you share. With caring thoughts for you both, may your walk down this road give new meaning and insight.

    For me, in years at hospital and hospice, sitting with someone who has had a stroke was the hardest and yet - and yet - there is a connection that does not need words, is not limited by words. May your grief and hers be filled with peace.

  3. Marguerite, when i made the choice to return to germany to help my mother take care of my father who had alzheimer's I often felt what you feel. accompanying him through the difficulty of having to let go, feeling helpless and yet somehow happy that i was just there and able to give him my love (which was not always easy growing up)... looking back now, i feel that every moment of intensity (good/bad) gives me a feeling now of having done the right thing. For him. For my mother. For me.

    The fact that you are going through all this and that you are able to sit by her side and be so very present is a gift. For your maman. For you.


  4. Thank you. Feeling your love, and power of your practice too.

    In gratitude,