About three weeks ago, Mom descended into a new phase of her illness. She's slipping away. The light is gone from her eyes; her strength is gone; the few pleasures she had left are no longer enjoyable.
For the first time, The Redhead and I have been exchanging ideas about Mom's memorial service. The topic of Mom's memorial service was alluded to, but never approached with such openness between us. With Mom's recent change, our conversations have diverted easily to this topic, probably out of necessity more than anything.
Before Mom lost her power of communication, The Redhead approached the memorial service with her, but Mom waved it aside. Now it is impossible for Mom to share her wishes, so we're in a strange land without a compass.
The Redhead and I discussed music and poetry that'd be nice to incorporate in this event. We've agreed on several pieces of music and have shared quotations we will integrate into the service. We've pondered where the service should be held. We've agreed where Mom's ashes should be spread. We have pledged to one another a portion of Mom's ashes will be spread at the family plot in Illnois, while another portion will be spread on a particular mountaintop in Colorado, where, as The Redhead put it, "She'll always have her beloved view."
With this change in Mom's condition, I've discovered those things that were hard to face have suddenly become so easy to understand and grasp. I think it's acceptance.
I think The Redhead feels more acceptance these days too, although she'd tell you differently. Before this change, we'd draw from our bottomless well of anger to rail against the oncoming train that was about to crush our Mother. We'd get angry at her disease, angry at her, angry at the staff of her facility, angry at friends and their perception of her disease.
Now we see that not everything has some kind of answer or solution. There are things in life that are truly uncontrollable, devastating and cruel. All we can do--and all we want to do-- is cushion Mom's fall.
Often, I find myself trying to imagine what life will be like without Mom. These aren't detailed, cinematic imaginings; they are thoughts-- floating and unformed.
When I lived in faraway cities, Mom was always with me; I could talk to her on the phone and hear her voice; I could write a letter and receive one in return; I could visit her or she'd travel to me, and we'd be together.
This time when she leaves, she will still be with me; but I'll search the world and as hard as I'll try, I won't be able to find her.