As my Mother Lay Dying

The best conversations with mothers always take place in silence when only the heart speaks  – Carrie Latet

My mother is dying of cancer in a nearby hospital.  She just turned 82 years old last month.  She’s been in decline for the past year.  Her five children thought the thrust of her diminution was early dementia.  Sadly, we were wrong.  Mom fell and broke her leg two days ago.  Upon further examination, doctors found cancer throughout her body including her brain. 

I went to visit her in the hospital last night.  The place was new, more like a subdued resort than a place where sick people go.  I stepped off the elevator and could sense the quietude, so at odds with the standard beeping machinations of modern medicine.

Only one hour remained in visiting hours.  There was no one around except for the nurses at their station, their mood so at odds with my lugubrious gait.

I walked in mom’s room where she lay sleeping.  She could have been a child but for the deep furrows that ran across her face like newly plowed fields in the spring. I felt a sense of displacement, a breaking off of a piece of my Self.

I sat down and studied her face.  How complicated our journey through this life with are parents is.  We can gather pieces of it in our hands from time to time.  We try to make sense of it, but most of its meaning is shrouded in mystery.  While we can’t explain it, we know it at another level.  It is at moments like this that we are provided an illumination, a momentary aperture, where light transcends much of what we thought we knew about this life and our mothers.

All that my mom is and ever was and everything that I am were alive in that room last night.  I began stroking her head, her thinning grey hair providing no resistance.  She awoke briefly to look into my eyes and we met in that moment. 

“You know I love you Mom”.

She gestured that she did and said, “I’m just so tired.” 

After she drifted back off, I told her that it was okay to leave, that she didn’t have to struggle anymore.

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