A few weeks ago I took my mother to visit one of her oldest friends who recently had a stroke. She is now in a nursing facility in Massachusetts. Her daughter and I have remained in touch and recently, thanks to social media, have been able to plan this visit between our mothers.
So one Saturday, my mom, my sister and I drove to Massachusetts to visit her. The trip took about 90 minutes and we were happy to be able to spend some time with her. When we arrived, we were not prepared for what we saw. I remembered a tall, beautiful woman who was so full of life and love. The ravage of a stroke had taken a great deal of that away and my heart broke for my mother to see that realization come to her too. The stroke took away her ability to communicate. It also took her away from her husband who lived that 90 minutes distance away.
This couple, from my seat, was perfectly matched. Both tall and statuesque. One light and fair, one dark and handsome. I remembered them dancing at my wedding, smooth and graceful and totally in sync as if their bodies were one. Chip to this day, talks about them dancing. Now they are apart in physical location, but I am sure not in soul.
When we said our goodbye’s, we each left with a weight and thoughts of sadness. I have a good idea of what my mother and sister felt too. Facing the reality of life sometimes brings it very close to home. Each of us with our own set of life’s fears regarding illness, loss and death. It is unpleasant to say the least and your heart breaks for the person sitting before you because you have no power to fix it.
I thought of mother and the sadness and possibly the fear of facing her own mortality. Here sat a friend she has known since before my sister was born. They raised their kids, took care of their families and now are grandparents. They should be laughing and reaping the benefits of the hard work they put into their life and the lives of others. I cannot face the thought that my mom will one day be gone. It is too much for my heart and the hearts of my family.
My husband and I have been married 25 years. Some of the years great, some harder than others but the majority reinforced the fact that we married the right person. Now in our early 50’s, we are looking at some major changes. A college bound daughter; an independent son; retirement and old age. I am ready and frightened all at the same time.
I came home from that visit and I hugged Chip. I cannot imagine leaving him in a facility to be cared for nor picture myself there as well. Chip is strong and comforting and there are days when I get home from the gym at 6:20 am and he has left for work and I am sad I didn’t get a kiss goodbye. Later in the morning, one of us will text a thought or “kiss” to the other. I cannot imagine that ending. Truth be told, I have been known to text the image of the knife as well when homicidal thoughts take over something he has ‘done’. Not that he would ever think that of me as well.
There is no escaping the end of life. It will come when and how it sees fit and is not always kind and merciful. I recently lost a friend to suicide. His son played lacrosse with my son and I remembered the time they came for dinner and what fun we had. He seemed larger than life itself yet his view of his life must have been different. I cannot comment on the ‘why’. We’ll never know.
I’ll tell you what, I hugged Chip a little longer that night and when he cuddles up to me in the early morning, I turn off my alarm, text Terri and tell her I am not spinning this morning. I am sleeping in with my cuddle-bug. I call my mother and don’t rush the call to discuss what’s on my checklist. I listen to her and laugh at the crazy newspaper cartoons she brings me to read. And to my sister Amy- I love you.
Enough said. Izzy’s snoring is getting deeper and at this early morning hour, I am going to nuzzle up to a warm pug and listen to the sounds of my house waking up.