Been gone for a long time, as you may already have figured out.
For a while, I just didn’t feel like blogging. No inspiration, nothing new to say, an absence of curiosity.
Then, about three weeks ago, my mother called from California. For seven years she’d been battling cancer, beating the odds several times over, including a rare instance of spontaneous remission.
She said she had good news and bad news.
The good news was that she’d had successful surgery to correct a cataract, and she was able to see well for the first time in many years.
The bad news: she’d seen her oncologist the previous day, and instead of giving her the usual pep talk, he wept as he told her she had two months to live, at the most.
My wife and I spent a few days organizing, calling family, washing clothes, packing, making motel reservations, having the car checked. One week after Mom called, we hit the road.
Last Friday we pulled off the highway in Mojave, California, and gave my sister a call.
In tears, she said, “We lost her.”
Mom had let go of her physical body some time between Thursday night and Friday morning, while we were either in Utah or Nevada. For a long time she’d refused pain medication, wanting to remain coherent for one last visit with her son… but the pain had increased to the point where she was in constant suffering, and her husband, bless his heart, finally talked her into taking morphine. On Thursday the 24th of January, he started administering the drug every two hours, giving her the last shot at about 11:30 p.m. When he found her Friday morning, she had not moved from the position she’d been in the previous night — leading my stepfather to believe that she may have been gone when he administered that last dose.
I’m very sad that I was not able to visit with my mother one last time, but I knew that she was not interested in lingering once her doctors had given up. I also am grateful that she was spared additional pain and suffering simply to chat with me. We’d already said what needed to be said, and had made great strides the past few years in healing old emotional wounds, such that I am very much content with our relationship before she died.
We held a memorial service this past Friday, one week after she passed. Her little Disciples of Christ church was filled past capacity, with many of her friends and family traveling long distances to say goodbye. That’s when I let go of my tears, which had to happen at some point. Funerals are frequently bittersweet occasions, and this one was no different. Bitter because we’re having to let go of a loved one. Sweet because we all come together in expressions of love and longing, bowing to an experience that escapes no one.
If you’re reading this, Mom… I really do feel your presence now and forever.
Thanks for bringing me into this world, and for helping me stay alive all this time.
Thanks also for showing me the meaning of Faith.
As tough and resilient as you always were, your soft heart always beamed out, there for anyone with eyes to see.