Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.
Piece 2 of 3
-from July 2008
*I thought an update was in order. Last week, my mother lost the ability to swallow and, as her will expressly forbids the use of a feeding tube, the doctor gave her a month to live. Yesterday, hospice gave her seven to ten days. Today, hospice gave her no more than three. In the meantime, this is what’s happened…*
If there’s one thing I never would have expected to see in death, it’s beauty. If there’s anything I do see in the death of my mother, her gaping mouth, her laborious and sporadic breathing, it’s beauty; delicate, graceful, overwhelming and radiant beauty; glorious healing, gentle forgiveness and a little thing, with which I felt previously unfamiliar, love.
I don’t make my own decisions in my life. Had I, I wouldn’t have witnessed this beauty. I wouldn’t have witnessed this love. I wouldn’t have witnessed any of this magnificent process. I would be doing what most of my family is doing, keeping a careful, cautious distance. This is a painful process and my first reaction was to avoid it. I wanted to keep away and keep clear. I wanted to love from a distance. What I was told was love is not distant. Love is near. Love is involved. Love is intimate and love is vulnerable. What I was told was love is an action. Love is reading. Love is talking. Love is listening. Love is reflecting. And I was told that my mother and me needed me to be there.
I am not an expert on death. In fact, I’ve rarely witnessed it. The experience I am having is my own (as this experience does not appear to be the experience my family is having) and I’ve never had it before. But evidently, death isn’t to be dreaded or feared as I have thought for so long. Instead, it’s to be embraced. And if my death is half as lovely as my mother’s, in some ways and strange to say, I can’t wait to be there for it, to be present, to be available, to be loved.
My mother has tried to teach me many lessons, most of which I have yet to learn. It’s ironic that in her death, my mother is teaching me a lesson for living which I may actually be learning.
This lesson in love and this magnificent beauty is my dying mother’s gift to me.