Monday, October 13, 2008

Shrinking Life

Spent time visiting my Mom yesterday. According to the nurse she had been sitting up in her chair for a few hours earlier in the day. When I got there, she was in bed, and the nurse was helping her drink some water using little sponges to transfer the water from the cup to her mouth. She seemed happy to see me, and my oldest daughter, who was with me. About 10 minutes after I arrived she fell asleep and stayed asleep through most of the time I was there.

Five days ago, I sat through a care meeting with the staff at Havenwood and one of my brothers. The meeting reaffirmed what we understood to be the prognosis. I was struck by how personally the staff took her situation. The genuinely care about her as they are caring for her. Needless to say, this is heartening. The entire goal at this point is to make sure that Mom is as comfortable and content as possible to ease her passing.

My brother handed me an envelope with some papers she had written up some time ago with her instructions regarding her funeral. Some of this was actually pretty funny. A few items that stood out to me included her instruction that we use a “CHEAP coffin.” Any music played during the memorial service should be “PIANO ONLY. NO ORGAN.” And we are instructed that there should be no crying, “although if that cannot be avoided, it is understandable.” These things are funny because they are predictable, knowing my Mom.

Later, I think I may post some information about her life and accomplishments. She may not consider herself to have accomplished much as the world mostly counts accomplishments, but as I reflect on her life, I think that she has accomplished much.

So yesterday I mostly just sat with her, observing and being with her. In a previous post, I mentioned that it seems as though she is dissipating. A friend of mine described the process, as he observed his Grandfather in his last days, as one of shrinking. I think that adjective is also apt. It is remarkable how small and frail she looks. She was never very big, or to my recollection especially strong of body. But now her body is significantly diminished. In my life I have also seen her spirit and energy wax and wane, and now it is waning in a way that I have not seen before. It is indeed shrinking, diminishing, withdrawing. For much of the rest of the day I felt simply quiet and sad. Not depressed, but feeling a subdued sorrow. To watch someone dying is really a rather awesome thing. 

I am reminded that all life is grass. The only permanent thing is resurrection. 

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