25 September 2013

Flights of Angels...



The advent of my mother's death was not what I expected…that's maybe not the right word…imagined? Well, and…it's certainly not what you must be thinking it was. I did not behave the way I thought I might or could…or maybe even wanted to. I was not graceful and generous the way people are in the movies at the deathbed of a loved one. I was awkward and mechanical. Stoic even, save for a few moments. I even scolded my mother a few times for leaving me with such a big fucking mess to clean up. Who does that? Yells at someone who is dying for fucking it all up? Well, I do apparently.

We had a few choice moments though. My Mom was very open to discussing death and her afterlife. And she had great moments of peaceful clarity when talking to me about what she was looking forward to, the things that were now eminent. My belief structure differs vastly from my mother's but we had one moment of alignment when discussing the soul of my unborn child. I do happen to believe that my child's soul spent some time in the ethers investigating me…and possibly others. My Mom and I agreed that it was fortuitous that she was about to cross over just at the time when my child's soul was still looking for me. She agreed to find her and greet her and show her the way.

I did ask my mother repeatedly if she was afraid or in pain. The answer was always no.

When her flame was extinguished there was not a single trace of her left. She did not seem to linger, even for a moment. It makes me think that her version of afterlife came true for her…a life that was so much more full and rich and promising than the one she left behind. I get the strong sense she went into that future without looking back once and with no hesitation. Because she is undoubtedly gone. Vanished.

But then my mother's flame in my house was always weak…like a small 25 cent votive, tucked away on a high shelf in the corner. Compare this to my son's flame, which burns in my house like a bonfire in the center of every room. Or my husband's flame which smolders solidly and strongly like coals that have been building for decades, in the best places in the house for maximum warmth.

My mother's flame was a bonfire for her husband, and he preferred to stand at a distance with a sweater until the very end when it finally dawned on him (2 days before her death) that she was dying and that there would be no recovery for her. Now he's lost. And I'm picking up his pieces.

Hours before my mother died she started what they call the death rattle. We just thought she was choking so we called to hospice nurse. When the nurse arrived she spent 10 minutes timing her breath. we all went outside and she informed us that my Mom was breathing in short intervals with stretches of 45 to 60 seconds of no breathing. This, she informs us, is the beginning of the end. She helps me administer morphine and gives me instructions on how to proceed for the next few hours. I gave her a final dose of morphine at about 2 am and excused myself to go take a nap. This was the last time I saw my mother alive. I did not tell her I loved her or say goodbye.

At 4:10am my stepfather called me and said, "Kerry, she's gone." in a disbelieving voice, implying that I should come right away and check because the unthinkable had just happened…HIS unthinkable had just happened…and was there any possibility he called it wrong? All this in his voice.  "I'm coming, " I reply. And I roll off the couch and walk the 500 feet to their home and indeed she was gone, like I said - completely and totally absent. She didn't look much different than she had for the previous 3 days, or even 2 weeks. But there was complete stillness and a profound quiet. And that was new. I touched her and she was so very warm still, she had only passed minutes before.

My mother's funeral was very…mormon. Everyone I dealt with was very nice. And very different from me. There was one woman who, while also being very nice and dropping off a great homemade stew, went on and on about her ailing and dead children for over an hour. The day after my mother passed. I guess some people just desperately need to be listened to. I couldn't tear my eyes away from her top secret special mormon under garments that were peeking through her shirt. (She was one of the serious ones.)

Anyway her funeral was exactly what she would have wanted. Which pissed me off for several reasons: 1) funerals are not for the dead, they are for the living. 2) as I mentioned before she was GONE baby GONE. There was not a trace of her, which means she most emphatically did NOT stick around for her own funeral, which was devised wholly by her and for her and ONLY for her. So it pisses me off that she made us all sit through that (very nice, quiet, somber, mormon) funeral without her.

I'm a little shocked that she is gone. And SO gone. It just doesn't strike me as being like her to do that. But my Mother had a few surprises up her sleeve in her lifetime, doing things occasionally that were so far out of character. I'm a lot shocked that I miss her as much as I do. A lot. Who knew? Indeed, who?

Saying bye to Grandma.

1 comment: