God looked around his garden
And found an empty place.
He then looked down upon the earth,
And saw your tired face.
He put His arms around you
And lifted you to rest.
God’s garden must be beautiful,
He always takes the best.
He knew that you were suffering,
He knew that you were in pain.
He knew that you would never
Get well on earth again.
He saw the road was getting rough
And the hills were hard to climb.
So He closed your weary eyelids
And whispered “Peace be thine.”
It broke our hearts to lose you
But you did not go alone…
For part of us went with you
The day God called you home.” by Wendy Bradley
(my mom, she is probably 16 years old)
My life changed last week, my dear mom passed on to her next destination. Some people tell me she is in a better place, that is hard to understand. However in fairness, I too, have told that to people before, but it was when the end of ones life had reached the place where there was nothing for them to enjoy. I could see it being said, “they are in a better place”. My mom was not actually there yet, but she was not exactly living the life she had enjoyed over the past 8 and 1/2 decades. She was in a state of limbo, some days better than others. I was sad to see her finishing her last chapter in that nursing home, but it wasn’t gloomy. She seemed to be pain free, content and in good spirits. Daddy on the other hand, was in misery. He begged to die. He was a much stronger person than mom, so if he had reached his tipping point – I believed him. He endured his misery in order to remain here with her. When he died, I breathed a heavy sigh of relief. He WAS in a better place.
The woman who told me yesterday in Alanon that my mother “was in a better place” came across deeply disingenuous. I could spend most of this blog writing about that, but, no need. Her response was generic.
I don’t know if mom would be happy with her final outcome. There are many ways one could spin her final months. She was content to be in that nursing home. She introduced the aides as “her friends”. I think the day I heard her say that, I had the best feeling; she had embraced her surrounding and her day to day contacts as if they were special people in HER life. Indeed they were, they were kind and loving to her, that was a gift.
And then, I needed to move on, not overthink all of it. It was what it was. Dad’s death, mom’s inability to shake her grief, her alcoholism that plagued her until that last stroke, and the severe stroke (s) that finally landed her in the nursing home, her dementia that came on as fast as the stroke, and later I figured out that these strokes had been coming over a period of years and she had been declining bit by bit, but that realization came later and hindsight is 20/20. All of this information does not come to you wrapped in a pretty package, it is information that slowly develops if you want to figure out what had occurred. I do. That is not what I am writing tonight.
Tonight is about a dead gray rabbit and dying baby squirrel
The rabbit was in a dream one night ago, it was lying on my front walk. I do not know why it was there any more than I know why I dreamed about it. I tried to get some information from my google search, but it wasn’t that easy. I am still clueless.
The baby squirrel was in the parking lot this afternoon, it was so little and would not move. We knew it had something wrong. We finally figured out it had been injured in the head, and the boys wanted to ‘put it out of it’s misery’, which, is not a bad thing. But, I ran off when they suggested it. I realized it wasn’t a bad idea, but emotionally, I ran.
Dead rabbit in dream, dying baby squirrel and mercy killing. How are these two events connected? Are they? I think they are. I just went through a miserable week of watching my mother die. It was not a cake walk by any stretch, nor was it a bad thing. Her situation was terminal and if by some miracle she had survived, her way of living would never be the same. It was a stretch to say her quality of life was good at the nursing home, but it was not complicated. She had a routine, she was safe, and some days she knew what was going on. The medical situation that took her life came suddenly and I guess for whatever reason was her end. It was her time to go.
I could write and write about the circumstances, I could debate the decisions we made, I could debate the what-ifs and even question the soundness of her Doctor, all within my rights. But, in this case, and really out of respect for all concerned, I leave it be.
We were all there, by her side, til her final breath. My sweet brother sat all night with her, he sang to her, he read Psalms to her, it was a long night, I took a break, went down and tried to sleep, then he came and I went to sit with her. Wednesday night March 30, 2016.
She is still in ICU, I think they moved her to Comfort Care mid day Thursday March 31st. I am sure she still knows me, this is hard to look at, however, I am glad I took it.
I was with her from Wednesday afternoon about 6pm March 30th until April 1st at 1:45 pm when she took her last breath. I slept there, ate next door at Tad’s and ran to Prescott one time to shower and change clothing. It was a long 36 hours. I will never forget.
So what about the Rabbit and Squirrel? Not sure, maybe all they were meant to do was inspire me to come here and write. It worked.
When we are grieving, moving in a slow healing process through fear and loss, we are also undergoing an extraordinary awakening of the heart. Grief can broaden our capacity for empathy and deepen our strength. We mourn the absence of a loved one, the loss of safety and the disappearance of certainty – the stark awareness that none of know what might happen next.
But even here, there is a great life teaching: the truth of impermanence, the preciousness of this fleeting moment. The recognition that we don’t have a moment to waste – and the realization that love is the rational act of a lifetime. – Stephen Levine
Today I realize more that I did how much I have to allow that grief to flow through me. As this unit of my parents has moved on, the finality of it has yet to fully become part of my conscious thoughts. Maybe it is supposed to be that way, many folks tell me they continue to think of their parents almost daily. I do also.
Timothy Shriver: “If you get grief wrong, you get a lot of things wrong”.
Not being able to acknowledge grief, no one to talk about it with, or to even allow yourself the time to feel the pain. you hide from pain; you hide from the things that bother you, hiding comes in many forms – be it drinking, drugs, food, and even shopping (ahem) can be a form of denial, the internet can become a way to avoid feeling. I think I ran across one of my methods, which has become almost an obsession since mom passed, it is looking for a small condo. I filled many hours browsing the hundreds of photos of condos in a variety of communities in Arkansas and Missouri. Nothing has become of this diligent search, but the idea made sense to me. I thought about slowing down on my search and immediately this empty feeling came over me. I think the condo is a way of moving on, then when I don’t have that hope for tomorrow, the pain of my mom being gone comes back. There is an insecurity that I have that if I don’t allow myself to find a place to go, a home of some sorts, that I will be drifting out there in the unknown.