It was four months ago today that my mom passed away.
It was an excruciating journey.
One you wouldn’t wish on anyone. Sometimes I can’t believe this is our story.
I am still numb.
I started counseling in the final year of her life, to process the grief and put a system in place to deal with the inevitable loss. I went to restorative yoga and took classes on breathing.
I gathered the tools to put in my toolbox. I suspect at some point the emotion will flow.
There were many good times. Up until the last month, there was always laughter. (Mostly from making fun of my Dad.) My mom had a wicked sense of humor passed on to both me and my son, and we used that tool effectively to lighten the darkness.
Speaking my mom’s language was a high priority. Managing anxiety. Building endurance. Seeking beauty.
“My mom has a poet’s heart,” I would tell every new caregiver who came to the house. “That must be honored.”
I found out after she had died that she had her own column in the college newspaper. I was not surprised she did, just surprised we didn’t know.
I am also not surprised that her words could have been written today–the timeless creature that she was.
I BEGGED her to write her memoirs and will never not be sorry that she never did.
HOW did MY MOM end her life unable to communicate?
I am grateful my faith is deep and I long ago learned to be okay in HIM, facing that which I cannot understand.
“I trust you to tell me,” my mom would say, “when it is over.”
I smile. Nod. Unflinchingly honest, I knew I would honor that request when denial and resources were both exhausted.
“I am so, so sorry, Mom,” I ache as we are talking about Hospice, “but I am out of ideas.”
Hospice was another road in the journey with unknown twists and turns, and none of us knew the distance from that beginning to the ultimate end. All we can ever do is our best, and we did our best trying to live while also dying.
We read to her a lot…me. Caregivers. Audiobooks.
Never as much as you would REALLY like–I share the same struggle with reading to my precious little peanut–but probably more than average.
As the days were coming to an obvious end, I ordered a book I remembered distinctly from my childhood, HAWK, I’M YOUR BROTHER.
I didn’t know it would be the last thing we ever shared…I honestly thought there was more time. The Hospice nurse guessed about a month–our crazy concoctions had fixed a few issues we were battling and there was no longer anything glaring at finality.
In the dynamics of my own marriage, my husband is usually gone for the hard things. Through no fault of his own, it’s just the way it has always gone and for that reason I believed my mom would pass away a few weeks later, while Carl was in California on business.
I was convinced of this, and comfortable with it.
So, when I sat down by her bedside that Saturday afternoon to read, I believed it was only another moment together in a lifetime of moments together.
The hawk is on his shoulder, ‘Fly now, bird. Go on.’ [The book reads.]
The hawk turns. He moves his wings…
Maybe he jumps a hundred times before he seems to catch the wind, before he lifts himself into that summer sky.
At last he soars. His wings shine in the sun and the way he flies is the way Rudy Soto always dreamed he’d fly…
The bird looks down and then he calls a long hawk cry and the sound floats on the wind…”
“I love you, Mom,” I say as I leave. “I know you know how much I love you.”
In hindsight I can see I was speaking her language–of freedom and soaring and permission to go–through a book uniquely part of our childhood.
I miss you, Mom. I don’t actually think you know how much I miss you.