So, this post has taken a while. How have you been? I hope life is treating you well.
When going through older posts here on Joey’s Café I realized it has almost been a year now. Alright, not quite, but it feels that way even to me. And considering my last post was about having caught Corona I am truly sorry for leaving you guys in the dark about the outcome. I did recover fairly quickly. And I was going to get back to writing and blogging. But then we found out that my mother was very ill.
Around Christmas and the New Year 2021 we didn’t know what was going to happen to her. At the end of January it became clear though, that her time had come. Being the brave, tough woman she had always been, my mother decided to forgo medical treatment at the hospital and instead receive palliative care at home.
For a few weeks I stayed with her, taking care of her day and night. That was a very intense, sometimes difficult time for both of us. But I am so deeply grateful that I was given this chance to be with her and talk with her and offer my love. Looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
We argued a lot. She needed more professional care, and I tried to bargain a lot. She gave in a little at a time, and so things worked out somehow. After a few weeks we were both exhausted, and that was when the hospice called and invited her to move in. That day I cried, from relief, for the first time. My mother couldn’t wait to go. Every now and again she asked me, “How much longer?” Those were the longest three days of her life.
The day she was to be picked up she was sitting on the edge of her bed, eagerly waiting. The ambulance service was late and she became afraid, they wouldn’t come. My heart broke for her as she fell asleep, leaning on me, not having the strength to stay awake. When they finally rang and carried her to the car, she never looked back. The small apartment that she had loved so much for the past decades was no home for her anymore.
“This is my home now,” she said to me later, looking around the cozy room that she had to herself at the hospice. And she was right. This place was heaven-sent. Everyone was affectionate and understanding and incredibly professionally apt. At any given moment there were four caregivers–nurses and counselors–caring for eight guests in the best possible manner. Professional grief counselors as well as volunteer grief counselors would approach me now and then to see if I would like to talk with them–which only then I realized I did.
Saying farewell is fearsome. Seeing your loved one becoming less and less is heartbreaking. She wanted to live, but the day she realized it wasn’t going to happen, she wanted to move on. Get it over with. She said that again and again. Should I want to hold on to her or should I let go for her sake?
Our relationship had never been easy–how could it be with two headstrong women in the same room? As an adult I had moved across the country and put some, what I felt, necessary distance between us. But in my heart I have always felt the deep connection between us. In hindsight I realize she was the one person in the world who got me, probably better than anyone else.
I went to see her every day. In her last two weeks every time I entered her room she would look at me and say something along the lines, “Are you for real? Why am I still here?” I would spend hours by her side, talking with her a little, reading a lot while she kept her eyes closed, maybe sleeping, maybe not. On her last day I knew instantly, that something had changed. She was there, in her bed, but she was not. Her gaze was veiled and her expression was peaceful. No fear, no expectation, no eagerness. Breathing had become an act of labor, then in those moments when she skipped a breath she looked at ease. And then she left.
As I am writing all this, tears are running, and that’s okay. I hadn’t planned to write a grief post, but when I started the first paragraph the words just kept flowing. Maybe I needed that, and maybe someone out there will relate.
My mother was always drawn to the arts. Dancing, singing, poetry and painting, she did it all. She left me a multitude of paintings and though the space to place them is sparse I am grateful. She passed shortly after Easter this year, so I chose a painting for this post that she made in 2019:
As the headline suggests, this post is not all about mourning. It ist about healing. About finding my way back to normalcy and starting to write again. To be honest, I’ve missed it. Not only writing novels, but blogging as well. Interacting with my readers and other writers is very satisfying and soothing to the soul. So, I’ll be back with more stories and more anecdotes, and hopefully it will all turn out for the better. If there is one thing I learned in those past months it is that life is what it is. Let’s treasure the good things in our lives no matter what. If we don’t–what’s the use?
Love and Peace