Friday, March 21, 2014

Snake Belly Night

The other night I wrote about my mother leaving this life graciously. She was headed that way. She was ready. The stages were coming in order. I honored her after she became non verbal by making sure she had every comfort that I could provide. She even smelled like her for Pete's sake.. You see,every day at 4:30 my mother would completely change her clothes, reapply fresh make up and spray on Shalimar in preparation for my dad's arrival home from work. It was a different era. But that is what she always smelled like, and it is comforting to us all.

I said everything I needed to say. My daughter rushed up to say one more goodbye and support me on Wednesday.  I told my brother on Thursday as he traveled that he probably wasn't going to make it in time, but he did. We settled in in tears and with the desire to make our precious mother's passing the way she lived in life.

We played her music. We gave her permission. We thanked her. We reminded her of funny childhood stories. We assured her of our belief in life eternal and that all her trials would be over. We told her to look for our father, and Glenn and her parents and especially Jesus. We celebrated that she lived for 3 weeks shy of 90! What a great, productive life she had. Over and again. Last night we even treated ourselves to a drink of Kentucky bourbon in her honor (her birth place) in her presence, and brought up memories of her precious parents. We reminded her she would soon join them.

But tonight, as Glenn used to say, "I'm lower than a snake's belly."( He had a cache of sayings like that.) And my brother Chris, my childhood pal and protector, is suffering too. He has to leave tomorrow at 4:00 . It feels incomplete for him, and he feels badly leaving me here to work through the final moments and events alone.

Part of my sadness is that I'm worn down. I can't tell if my tears are from exhaustion, pity or grief. And yet, I believe strongly that a loved one's going out should be everything the living can practically provide,  to make it as intimate as it is to be born into this world. And part of that is going out surrounded in love.

I'm home tonight because we have reached the point that we believe she is gone somewhere already. Her essence is missing. And it hurts to watch that more than it will when her body is completely gone I think. I will go back if they call tonight and certainly I will return in the early morning.

 But right  now, my proud  beautiful mother looks  like a marionette doll that is waiting for the puppeteer to bring life back to her.
 Her face is lifeless and limp, but her body continues to breathe. It is completely breaking my heart to see her like this.

Tonight I feel raw and slightly angry at the process. At this moment, even though it is as sacred  a time as it can be, imminent death that drags on and on or unexpected death pisses me off in its seemingly careless abandon.
Irrationally I know, it feels that one should get to direct one's own damn death when the time is at hand. Like we've earned a shot at how we go out.

Yep. Snake belly night.
On the journey.