Wednesday, July 3, 2013

July Third

The last conversation I had with my mother's doctor, a woman who had been her trusted personal physician for more years than I can count, happened slightly more than one year ago.  It was sometime before my mother left her home for the last time.  It probably was during a crisis, when we needed answers,.  The last words  from her doctor were "she'll probably not make it to the fourth of July".  My mother gave up the fight on the third  in a beautiful hospice center, surrounded by the most remarkable people in the universe.  She was not alone and she was not in pain.  Her two final wishes, completely fulfilled. She died with dignity, just as she lived for the past eighty eight beautiful years.

I've written so much during that and the time following her death.  It has been a unique year, filled with  emotion and responsibility.  Mother was cremated.  Her ashes sit in a beautiful blue box in the T.V. room where my father can see them, every moment of every day.  But for the times he ventures away from his home to do a few local chores or to take his rides to the canal in Sandwich, he sits and does little else in that room.  I wonder if he is still communicating with her, if he finds solace in his self-imposed solitude. Perhaps he feels safe and protected from the outside world if he remains in close proximity to that blue box.  I've given up trying to encourage him to be social, even to the point of no longer inviting him to our home for dinner or out to lunch. He simply refuses, as if he has a full calendar and can't take the time......away from her.

I'm still haunted by the images; the sights and sounds of a loved one dying are too painful to bear in real time and impossible to carry in one's heart after as a reflection.  If I stop and allow myself to replay the little parts of the whole experience, I start to cry and need the comfort that only a mother can give. And she no longer can. So, I try not to do that.  I took care of a lot of the initial grieving in Italy. For one entire month, in my own self-imposed solitude,  I allowed myself to feel the sadness and to remember the bits and pieces. In my mind,  I framed so many little memories and went as far with them as I could.  For my own benefit, I consecrated my mother's life and death.  She was a beautiful woman. She was smart and strong.  A woman of principle who stood by her convictions.Right was right and wrong, very wrong.  One very hard act to follow, let me tell you.

Often, people who are in the act of grieving, apologize for their "moments".  My answer always is the same.  As unique as people are, so too is the process.  Its okay to be sad, to realize a loss and a heart's emptiness that follows.  Imagine if we spent time on the earth and when we left, we were not missed?  I think of that all the time, about how grief validates one's living.  Be sad.  Cry.  Do whatever you need to do. We owe that much to our late loved ones. My mother's absence from this world is profound.  She was here and she made a difference.  She gave life, she gave love and she bore her suffering, never blaming, never demanding, never even asking anything of us and always, always, showing my father that he had a very special purpose in life. Together, they remained, hand in hand until she took her last breath on July 3rd.

My mother's cousin, who is my contemporary, called last week.  She lost her own mother, my mom's dear sweet Aunt Tina, just a few months before I lost mine.  She asked if my mother had attempted to contact me yet.  I wasn't sure of what to say.  I am in constant contact with my mom, every day.  She guides me and gives me answers to questions in ways that I would never have imagined during her life on Earth.  She has, I believe, reconnected me with her cousins and now I have a constant source of love and support from people who know who I am and where I come from.  It is a gift beyond compare.

 It has rained for days on end, making the end of June a somber one.  Tears from the sky.  Maybe my mother saying "this is it, the last bit". Today,  the sun is already shining and the sky showing the first shade of blue in a very long time.  There is a breeze and a feeling of lightness and hope for a brilliant summer day from start to finish.  The hydrangeas are in bloom and the grass is verdant.  I can see the ducks on the pond again.  I can hear the occasional plane in the sky and on a day when I thought I would be shrouded in sad memory, I am lifted and free of pain.

Yes, Cousin Marie, my mother has contacted me.  She's telling me, "no more tears". As I write this, the sun is growing brighter and the day is becoming more beautiful just as her life did from the day she was born.

One tiny tear left as I remember.  She was that great and so much more.

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