I took this photo about two weeks ago. This is my Mom. We didn't know then that her liver was failing; that today she would speak for maybe two minutes at a time and then fall back into a comfortable sleep.
We didn't know that today the nursing home and her doctor and hospice would be preparing us to lose her, any day now.
My Mother is 98, a month short of 99. For almost a decade she has operated with a faulty memory that has held her smack in the present. And in the present, she is fully present. She is kind and fun and very dear. How anyone without a working memory can be so with it is beyond me. But she was and is. Ask anyone.
The head nurse at her nursing home told me tonight that all the staff is taking this hard. I know that must be true because they are coming to us, some crying, others volunteering stories of how much they care about her. They are checking in on her and fluffing her pillow and massaging her shoulders and legs and holding cups of ginger ale with straws for her. To a person, they are so kind.
In the next week, or perhaps two, I'm told to expect that my Mother's body will slowly shut down; that with the help of Morphine she remain comfortable and without pain. Today she is able to say I love you and to squeeze my hand and smile and say thank you to everyone who so lovingly comes in her room to care for her.
I am both prepared and unprepared to lose my Mother. I am aware of the deepest love within me and I will have no regrets, a gift in itself. But god will I miss her. I won't miss the nursing home or doing her laundry or deciding to put off that trip to Italy, but I will miss my Mother for all of my life.
I know how lucky I am to have the privilege of loving her so much.
If you don't mind, would you pray with me that she will die, if she must, in the gentlest way, hopefully with me with her, both of us knowing that the whole of her life was everything a good life should and could be.
I keep telling myself these tears are solely due to love. Which is true.