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Life And Death, Love And Pain

March 23rd, 2011 by Alison · 7 Comments · community

The call came at 7:50 on Monday morning. My husband Thor quietly relayed it to me: Mom had died. My response was the opposite of quiet: I was hyper, distraught, frantic to get to her, to be in her physical presence for the last time. I drove the two of us at breakneck speed to get to her house. “I thought I’d have just a little more time with her,” I kept saying.

Life is like this: we think we have options we turn out to not have, after all. This can be the case even when we’re paying attention and reading the cues around us. When my husband and I had left our bedside vigil the afternoon before, Mom’s circulation was still good, her feet warm and toenail beds free of the purple-blue tinge the hospice nurse had told us was a sign of the end. So I thought we had a little more time together. But no.

Note to self: we don’t always get what we want.

Once at Mom’s house*, I joined my older brother Jeff in her bedroom. He was weeping, for the first time in our adult lives. We held each other close and murmured that she’s in a better place. My younger brother Mick joined us soon after. Relief, sadness and connectedness all commingled in us.

I’ve filled many handkerchiefs and kleenexes these past weeks, and I have more tears and grief in my future. Life is also like this: we will have pain, especially if we dare to love. The more we accept that, the better things go, I find. Pain is a price I gladly pay for being fully alive, and loving many people, of all ages. Joy and community are my steady dividends.

My eight year old friend Katelyn is calling from the backyard for me to join her in jumping on the trampoline — and I’m not about to turn her down. I love jumping with her.  Thor and Katelyn’s mom Kelly are taking the dogs for a walk in the Brea hills behind the house, hills still full of deer, coyotes and raptors.

Our lives have many chapters. This chapter of my mother’s physical death is one of the most precious chapters I’ve known.

*My mother lived in a very good ‘board and care’. These places (numbering 2600 now in Orange County, CA alone) generally look like normal homes, and have 4-6 people living there under the care of two trained caregivers.

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7 Comments so far ↓

  • Bill the Galactic Hero

    Dear Alison,
    I’ve been reading your blog for a bit now trying to get ready for the trying times to come. I was born and raised in Portland although I now live in Denver. My father passed away last year. I also thought I’d have longer, but did not. He went into hospice at the house where I had lived from ten onward and the next week he was gone. I loved him very much as you must have loved your mother. Thank you for writing here to help us through the time to come.

    All my best,

  • Barbara Blaine Chapman

    So sorry for your family’s loss. I remember Jean and her “mix and match” meals with great fondness.

  • Vicki Lind

    My prayers are with you. Part of her must be in
    “Ali’s mommy” who I will get to enjoy for years to come. Hugs.

  • Sue

    We have been thinking much of you both since I heard from Vicki you were down there. Blessings on all your journeys, and looking forward to the days when our paths cross again.

  • Crafty Green Poet

    I’m so sorry to hear this,

  • Deb

    I’m so very sorry for your loss, and I am sending you heartfelt hugs.

  • Alison

    Friends, Thank you for your empathy. I can feel the hugs. At times like these, having community makes a huge difference.

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