Saying goodbye to my aging mother Carol is becoming difficult. We are spending more time in that in-between space, those luminal misty moments where I get to see her and she sees me, we share our love, like, and high regard.
As I left tonight after saying goodbyes, she called to me “I do love you dearly” and I paused and heartily replied, “me too” and walked to the car in tears.
Nobody knows how long they have on this earth. Today we talked about how she isn’t expecting to be here for a lot longer, and she wants to vote in 2020. That seems pretty reasonable to me. I told her I supported that plan, hoped she could add her good sense to the Florida elections, and fully trusted her needs and desires.
I don’t wish institutionalized aging on anyone, yet here we are. She is in an excellent life care facility, well cared for, she is doing ok, in Florida, I am in Maryland, my siblings join me in her care.
There have been struggles between us, she was not always able to be who I needed and I’ve struggled with attachment issues for a lifetime. Yet she is me and I am her in so many wonderful and foundational ways. A lot of how I move in this world was learned from Carol and modified with other lessons. I don’t want to be much different so I’m grateful for all the she in me.
For decades during young and mid-adulthood leaving was pure torture, I spent each travel day aching in pain, choked up, near tears. Eventually I found the right antidepressants and that helped a lot of things. The biggest change came when I had my own family to return to. My own deep attachments. Then, finally then, I was able to depart without brutal pain.
Yet this time, even as I was leaving to go directly to visit my daughter at college, this goodbye was hard, full of tears and sadness. Each time now it seems like this could be the last time. All of me, including that little girl’s heart who wanted to feel her mother’s love so badly, all of me accepts and is allowing of the changes and losses of life. And this is my mother, and she is fading on the edges, and I will miss her love, interest, and friendship dearly someday.
This pain of leaving has arrived in the shadow of a loss that hasn’t happened yet.
I know I can’t pre-grieve a loss. And grief is simply love, felt in another way. Today I can only grieve the current losses and feel my concerns for the future. Carol is my only remaining parent.
Oh Mummy, how deeply you sit in my heart. How grateful I am to be able to love and assist you these days when your needs are louder than mine. How I wish I could make it all good, give you Dick at your side, take away all the stroke damage. Yet like my own life, we don’t get to pick the ways life unfolds. You are living it, as best you can, with all you have learned and been given.
I miss you, sitting back in my quiet home, watching the sun and breeze move among the trees. You can watch the same from your window. I hope it brings you quiet and peace. That peace helps me keep living and loving. Knowing I can return to it allows me to do all the crying, grieving, and loving as well, as I hold you, Sarah, and all my precious people in my heart.