Friday, June 17, 2011

Fragile Bonds...Sturdy Threads

My parents are gone from this earth. I know this because their house is empty now, and their cars are gone from their driveway. Their mailbox now has someone else's name. I don't have any cards or letters from them in my own mailbox, and my phone never rings with their cheery hello. When I call their phone, the number has been disconnected. Yet they are here with me as surely as this monitor, this keypad, this morning. I have several friends who are losing their parents right now, and I want to comfort and encourage them. I want to tell them to hang on tight to each moment, but then let it go, and create a new moment. When my mother was leaving this life, she was in the ICU at Scott and White. My brothers and I camped out on the floor of her room. Stacy, the baby of our family, and Todd, the rascal, and Steve, the protector, and I all stayed near her side. The family stories we shared with each other were both bittersweet and hysterical, as they all involved our mother. We prayed with her and for her in every moment, and in every breath. Yet I have to believe that our laughter and our stories reached her heart as a kind of thanksgiving, that in every tale we told she could hear us saying, "Thank you, Momma...thank you...thank you..." The nurses had to come into her room and ask us to quiet down at one point, and we were all duly chastised, but our mirth at the life we shared was precious to us. At night, Todd and Stacy would go out in stealth mode to see what bedding they could round up, a spare mattress pad, a pillow, a chair, and we slept. If you've ever stayed at a hospital, you know that there is no such thing as day or night, but we tried to quiet ourselves through the evening, matching our quiet breathing to the sound of our mother's ventilator. We touched her hands, ran our fingers up and down the tiny veins in her wrists, rubbed her shoulders and feet. We wanted to touch her, to communicate somehow through our fingertips our love and gratitude. For my friends who are saying their own goodbyes right now, I would tell you to cherish each moment and appreciate its simplicity. It is what it is. And yet it is so much more. It is holy and sacred but don't be scared. Tuck each sight and sound into your memory banks, because these things will sustain you when your beloved mother or father is gone from your side. Our world doesn't allow us to stay in the moment for very long...we are always on to the next thing, the next task, the next event. I would tell you to stay. Stay in the moment. Be present. It is a gift you are giving your loved ones...and a gift you will cherish for always.

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