Friday, January 17, 2014

This day

Mom, September 2012

I don't want the dawn to come, this day to begin.

I've been dreading it for a long time now: January 17th; the day, last year, that my mother died.

After today, it won't be "this year" that my mother died, but "last year" and I will be expected to be moving on, further from her.

And yet I find the more time has passed I seem to be tumbling further into her instead.  That final year of her life, I was so consumed with taking care of her, the frail, tentative, greatly diminished shadow my mother had become blotted out the vibrant, full-fleshed woman I had known and loved for years.

And now she has come back to me, memory after memory cascading though my dreams and waking thoughts. Though mixed and tumbled in, especially now, is the pain of those final days.

I would never, in a million years, have not been present for my mother's final moments, have let her die alone. And yet I can also say that I will never be the same, and not in a good way, for what I witnessed.

When her eyes flew open, unseeing except for her death come upon her; when she huffed and puffed and fought against the tide of her bursting, broken heart; this was seared into my brain. Her terror was terrifying, and will be with me always.  She did not go peaceful into that black night.

And then she was gone. And yet her body kept breathing. For a good five minutes still. As it wound down, I sat beside the waxy husk that had been my mother.  She had so clearly vacated the premises, but still I held her hand.  A body with the spirit fled is such a strange ghoulish thing, and yet there was also an odd comfort in sitting there.

I said goodbye to the body that had been my mother, watched it draw its last breath.

A year ago, today.

My mother is at peace.

Me, not so much so.

It's going to be a busy day today, Jake with no school, Ethan a mere half-day. There will be no time to mourn, to remember. I am a mother, my children need me. My eyes must search forward, not back.

And yes, tonight I will light a candle for my mother, let it burn through the night, encased safe in its shroud of glass; watch the flickering flame and its reflection in my heart, where her ember glows, always.

Goodnight, mom.

I love you.

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