She sits with vases of flowers surrounding her.
Some fresh and vibrant, some with bent, dead blossoms that have been kept too long.
Suddenly I feel the weight and see the irony of my mother sitting there amongst the vases of flowers and I can’t help thinking which set of flowers she prefers or if she even notices the difference.
She seems bent over and frail like the faded blossom.
I wonder if she feels “kept too long” ?
Does she notice that her life stalled out and time has slipped by. Years have slipped by.
And there she sits, trapped inside a wilting body.
Aging feels cruel just now as I witness the slow disappearance of who my mother was. The reality of growing old almost certainly means the loss of beauty and memory, but the worst by far is the loss of dignity. Instead of her designer wardrobe, she wears the same old worn shirts covered with stains and crumbs. Her hair and make up are askew, skin sagging.
It all feels too humiliating to bear.
To be human forces us to face death , but disease I fear is an atrocity.
It’s like a stripping gale force wind, robbing the soul of any illusion of control.
And we, the bystanders are not spared the winds’ force either. It shakes everything in it’s path and cuts deep at dignity’s roots. It pushes on us who watch, a disruptive restlessness we can’t escape. We must grieve the loss and the sense of powerlessness in the same breath.
And I, my mother’s only daughter, am able to see the glint of longing in her hazy stare.
I see the young hopeful girl and beautiful woman all wrapped inside the thin, frail skin.
I know her secrets.
Her love lost.
Her sorrow she never let show.
And I carry it all in the words I write. I’m giving this small voice a place to sing.
I can’t help seeing my own aging reflection in her eyes and wonder how do we both find solid ground in this sea of change. These waves feel too overwhelming to endure just now.
My heart is trying to hold on but my grasp is a wrestling match. This journey of learning to let go of someone who is “still here” has been gut wrenching and wrought through with confusion.
The ebb and flow between sympathy and resignation are constant.
I never know how I should feel as I gaze at the shell of skin that once contained a vibrant woman. Sometimes I look in her eyes and swear I still see that twinkle of life inside.
It’s the same spark that always showed up when she would let her guard down. When she allowed herself to feel.
Music was always the way to her heart and the strains of her favorite song often play in my head…
Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairytale comes real.
I’ve looked at love that way.
But now it’s just another show
You leave em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know-
don’t give yourself away.
I’ve looked at love from both sides now
from give and take and still somehow
it’s loves illusions I recall, I really don’t know love at all.
These words linger with deeper meaning as I ponder life and death. Are we meant to do both well ? Or do we just give ourselves permission to stumble along from time to time in our wonderfully vulnerable human skin and learn as we go.
It’s a letting go and pulling back and everything in between.
It’s holding onto the way I want to remember my mom, with sun-kissed cheeks and toes in the sand and also being present at her bedside with tender affection and tears.
I fully know that death will win in the end and we both must make peace with that.
And so it is, the sun sets and rises and I receive both.
There’s no other way.
Because the receiving and the wrestling are both holy.
for Patti, who taught me about resiliency and resourcefulness…
and who showed me many important things in life like how to talk yourself out of a speeding ticket and eat avocados with a spoon while sun-bathing and how to properly shop all day and end with a glass of chardonnay. And most importantly who taught me to see the world with a twinkle in your eye. I love you for it all.
xxoo your jamie sue