One year ago today, February 22, 2019, God called my dear mother Home. The morning was foggy with rain. A dull silence filled the house. I’d slept a somewhat sleepless night, pondering what the future held for Mom and me since she was practically bedridden. When I checked on her in the wee hours of the morning, she was resting peacefully, although her breathing was faint. The home health nurse arrived later that morning. She bathed Mom and changed her nightgown. Just before the nurse left, she asked me if I heard the rattle in Mom’s breathing? I nodded…yes. I roused Mom, asking her if she wanted some breakfast. She did, so I fixed oatmeal, one of her favorites. When she finished eating, I put the bowl in the sink. Returning to her bedroom, I noticed the rattle in her throat had deepened; I knew that her time on this side of Jordan was short. I held her close to me and whispered into her ear, “Mom, you go on Home. I’ll be okay…and…I love you.” A faint smile creased her lips. In a gentle whisper, she said she loved me too. Not long after that, while holding her frail hand, she breathed her last, and her soul floated upward to Heaven.
This past year has been a series of highs and lows, and a significant revelation–grief is metamorphic, changing at will. More times than not, it is a taunting demon with a Hydra-like head, each one spitting memories at me with a sneering grin; memories of my dear mother and all she meant to me. There are times, however, when the demon retreats quietly into the darkest crevices of my mind. And then, when I least expect it, it attacks. If I’m at home and alone, I cry out to God to help me in my misery. I stare at Mom’s rocker by the window, and long to see her there once more. But if I’m in public and the demon of grief attacks me, I cry out to God–in silence–and hide behind a mask. I paint on a clown’s smile, and the world smiles with me. But the mask helps hide the tears that I shed in the night. Friends and loved ones assume that I’ve handled my Mom’s passing with strength and finesse. Without the mask, though, I’d be a mess.
I am thankful that God spared my Mom the pain that I’ve witnessed in the parents of friends and loved ones. She’s Home now! No more pain. No more tears. Home! There is a part of me that envies my dear mother because she is Home. I could be so lucky.
One other thing about grief – “It’s like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All I can do is learn to swim.” I am happy to report that as the days go by, my swimming is improving.
(Thank you,@James Edward Bates, for this snap of Mom and me. To my knowledge, it was our last.)