28 October 2014


a few nights ago i had a dream. i was walking around my neighborhood,running errands, doing the mundane only i was completely naked. like not a stitch of clothing. on my body. at first i was shocked when i realized it, but then something changed inside and i felt empowered, emboldened. it felt necessary,not naughty. it felt purposeful,not perverted. 

i was recounting my dream to the mister. i asked what he thought it meant. he laughed thinking back to the weekend when our youngest had traipsed around our 5 acres of land in the country completely naked. he swam in the pond and reveled in the obscurity of being out in the woods. but my husband's interpretation of my dream didn't seem to fit. my dream seemed more metaphorical than literal. it felt more like necessary vulnerability than daredevil antics so i tabled it til i went to see about my mother.  

in many ways i feel like my mother went missing about 8 years ago. right after our youngest was born. and in many ways when she checked out, i forgot that once we had a tender and sweet kinship. she went missing and took many of my fondest and most tender memories with her. she's a hard one this mother of mine. stoic, yet loyal. fierce, yet loving. unwavering, yet generous. far from sentimental.

today i read to her. i opened several cards that were sent from my friends, strangers to her, telling my mother she was being cared for from afar. the vulnerability was too much for my weak minded mother. she changed the subject. 

i thought to when she came to sit in my hospital room when the doctor told me i had cancer. she asked the doctor if it was her fault, because she smoked. i thought of when she came to help me mother my first born and my second and my third. somewhere around the 4th she threw in the towel and our relationship changed. i guess she saw that i was in capable hands. my own. and she sort of stopped coming around. the only time i saw her was when i drove to her. and that cut hard. a deep wedge that i will never understand.

today i asked her what she thought of dying. if there was anything she wanted to say, any unresolved feelings or stories she needed to get off her chest. i know my mother's childhood was not sweet or gentle but i only know this by subtle hints. she hasn't let any of her kids in on much of the details. and in some ways she seems like a stranger to me. so we sat on my sister's sofa. and she gently asked if there was anything i had left to say. and just like that i opened up. like a storm cloud. but with gratitude. 

i thanked her for doing better than her parents. for protecting her children the best she could. i thanked her for all of the drives she made up to see me when i was in college. all of the care packages she sent. for taking me to europe and on family vacations. for always giving us her best, the best she could. giving us the most comfortable bed in the house when we came to visit. having cupboards stocked with food and never letting our dirty laundry hit the floor before throwing them in the washing machine.even now i can think of a hundred more things to add to the list.

it is clear to me, and i told her, that she did the very best she could. i told her even when she was not nice, but harsh and i had to politely, yet firmly tell her that she was not allowed to speak to me that way, that i know she was doing her best. and as i spoke she wept. and i wept. and i knew that she needed to be let off the hook.

as she slept most of the day, i read a book on (ironically) parenting. it soothed me and reminded me that we as parents are not the saviors of our children. parenting is more mundane than anything as grandiose. it's more about stewardship than saving the day. it's more about the grunt work than the frills. it's more about being faithful in the little things than grand gestures. it's more about sowing than reaping.

i left my mother and drove back into town under an ominous cloud. literally. i dodged the wind and made my way into the thrift store. boys needed stuff, and i their mother was the person for the job.

it hit me like a ton of bricks. two hours earlier i had been helping my mother find her way to the bathroom, and tucking her into bed and trying my best to sleep in the same bed with her. i had spent a mere 24 hours mothering my own diminishing disease riddled mother. now i was back in my adopted hometown mothering my boys by way of finding them the necessary accoutrements for their halloween costumes. what a weird dichotomy.

i left the thrift store empty handed and continued my way across town.upon my arrival, i was met with a tepid welcome. the boys were distracted with a guy named wallace and his dog gromit. i didn't take it personally. i poured a glass of wine and decided to shower whilst the mister tended to dinner. 

in the shower,it hit me. that same feeling that has been sneaking up from behind for the passed few weeks. a confusing, "i want my mother to be out of pain, but i want my mother". even now i cannot explain the confusion. it's not the wine. believe me. it's not the wine. i wept in the shower and thought of the vulnerability in seeing my mom's naked body today as i helped the nurse dress her after her bath. i don't think i have seen her naked since i was a little girl, and she and i took baths together every night. how did i not think of that til now? 

i finished up my shower, dressed and joined my 5 boys at the supper table. the mood was heavy. i looked at those eyes, my own eyes red rimmed. and i decided to charge in. no holds barred. no stone unturned. no story off limits. and my boys know. we live honestly and in light of the goodness of the creator who recklessly throws open the door and calls us all his and never picks favorites and always shows up and understands that our frailty is what keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously. lest we do, we may forget that we too still need a little more time to find our footing. but never throws in the towel.

dear ones, i deeply and humbly thank you for all your care, well wishes, prayers, cards, chocolates and meals as we continue to live in this sad place of watching my mother metaphorically pack her bags for home.


14 October 2014

left behind

hey you. i've been ignoring you. on purpose. i've been thinking of all kinds of way to break up. to plead the fifth. to forget. to be too busy to remind myself of your existence. the truth is, well, the truth is i've come down with a big case of the scaredy cats and haven't had an ounce of will to buck up. i don't think i ever will. so i put on my crush eddie who sings, "just breathe" and here goes. i write to say...

yesterday, it hit me. we were fresh from the sandy shore where i purchased from my very favorite bookstore a blank journal in hopes of converting it to the day timer calendar of my dreams (after a short, but exhausting search which left me wanting). as i jotted the dates and blocks of days that added to a year, it hit me. it's very likely this year will bring the loss of my mother and the thought even now as i sit makes me well, sad. let's just say sad cause i wouldn't want to lean towards the dramatic like "life changing" or "shattering" so i'm sticking with sad-for right now. 

for the past month i've been sitting on a keg of a blogpost. my mother has stage 4 inoperable incurable lung cancer. she's 77. she's smoked a long time. but here's the thing, dear loved ones. when someone you knows tells you her mother has lung cancer, please don't let the first words you utter be, "does she smoke" like many of those who i've shared my troubling family news with have responded.

here's why. we all deserve to die-but grace, praise the lord, grace usurps that tormenting truth and allows us to relish, like a float down a lazy river, the love and courtesy of a saviour who says, "there is a better way-me." so yeah. don't start with the "i told you so" when someone tells you their mother is dying. it's just poor form. 

so here we are. me wrestling wild ass monkeys (aka my children). them winning. mostly cause i am older and slower and not as smart or energetic and let's not forget distracted whilst a couple hours away my mom is living with broke down lungs. it's all so surreal. and sickening. 

my sister takes her to an appointment and phones me to process the news. i drive over to see my mom on the days when my boys are in their one day a week tutorial for a visit with a doctor or take her to lunch or be shunned cause she really can't be bothered with me being all weepy all over the place. 

geez. could somebody make an app for that? the "schedule a break down app"? in between the taking the dogs out and driving the cross country team?

i was cleaning out one of the two cabinets i have in my kitchen (first world problems) when the littlest bemoaned his homemade biscotti was too hot (first, first world problems). and like a voice over the intercom, i heard my voice say, "honey, i am sorry. i burned the biscotti. i am having a hard time thinking of nana dying."

and like kids and life do, we just move on. down the road. to carpool and family vacation and supermarket outings. but in the corner of my mind, i think of the burying of the only person in my life who still worries when i drive alone or with my boys. who is that "call me when you get there" voice. the only person who can make me want to bang my head against the wall, but whose approval i think i still secretly and sickening wish i had (it'll never happen. just when she got used to my homeschooling and became an all "down with public school" zealot, i put two of my boys in public school so in her defense i am pretty maddening myself.)

so here we are. you, me and cancer. not my cancer (been there done that) or that of my Mister or my boys (thank god). but cancer that is taking away the only grandmother my boys have ever known. the one who always had a hot meal, their favorite food group-macaroni and cheese-from the box,like they like it-waiting for them when they arrived from an arduous journey be it from maryland or nashville. and i am sad. so let me just sit in that for a while. or for a long while. or probably forever because death or the thought of it kind of sucks. not for those who are dying necessarily, but for those who are left behind. 

that's it. so if you see me out and about and i look distracted or my kid shows up without his homework (or having studied for his art history quiz) or i forget about a meeting, just know. it's cause i'm sad. that's it.