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Monday, April 1, 2013

Love, Loss and Life

It has been 38 days since my mother died. It has felt more like months, in some ways, and time is going too fast in others. When I notice the change in seasons in Chicago - from heavy snow to light snow, temperatures in the high 20s to the high 30s, time change, spring flowers peeking through the mud and snow - I want time to stand still. I am not done grieving my mom. On the other hand, evenings spent alone with my thoughts (I know - don't go into that "neighborhood" alone) lead me down a horrendous path of anxiety and recent memories. Some of those memories are good. Even though my mom lived to be 97, she was clever and funny at least part of the time. At the time the EMTs were wheeling her out of the hospital and into the nursing home (October) she reminded them to be sure to hit all the doorways. This with two broken ribs. Some of the memories are not good, like her lack of appetite and anxiety about her care. I'm glad she got to be in her home for her death, and I thank my brother Paul for remaining steadfast in that concern.

Last week has been the hardest so far. The blessing that she got to go in her sleep carried me through the first week, although I had regrets that I had not done more to take her to see her newest grandchild, Anshu, who arrived in Chicago from Delhi, India on the 9th. Today I tackled the piles of papers on my kitchen table and kitchen desk and ran across her obituary. Now I just miss her. Despite all the difficulties that come with living in a family, having intense emotions, and seeing things differently, I would love to hear her criticize my cooking once more.

I have two brothers and they have been a tremendous comfort to me in the absence of Mom. I hope nothing ever comes between us. Unfortunately, I have no control over that. Time will tell whether we can come to enjoy each other again. Right now we are all wrapped up in the struggle to move on.

I tried to write down what I noticed in the days after her death, and was surprised at the number of things in my life that she influenced. First, I noticed a plaque I had made her that she didn't care for. She used it to hold a plant. I laughed about it. Then I began to make Swedish pancakes and realized that most of my favorite recipes will be reminding me of her. A few days later, a cut on my finger woke me with throbbing pain. As I soaked it in hot water, I realized that much of the medical knowledge I have came from Mom, who was a registered nurse. Every time I am poked with a needle, I remember how she could do it with no pain. My memories are random, as most grief is, and at those moments when I missed her the most, I have been saved by a phone call from a loving friend or neighbor. I'm glad I had an extra four months with her after the doctor at the nursing home told me to take her home and make her comfortable. I gave her a hug each time I said good-bye, and whispered in her ear that I loved her. Her hair was soft and curly, and her shoulder and scapulae bones stuck out. She never complained after she got to come home that one last time, even though her body was failing and her bones ached. She was just glad to be home, and now her spirit is home, too.

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