Wednesday, January 01, 2014
I haven't a clue how this will work out. Writing about 2013. I've dreaded it. And somehow longed for it too. Incapsulating the year in order to frame it up and make sense of what it turned out to be. I really feel and have felt so utterly speechless. I sit in the same spot on my bed as I did last year. Though last year, still a few months pregnant, a few months bewildered, I sat atop a freshly made bed in the morning light. Looking back on that day, I recognize that I was holding my breath. Knowing how this year might turn out. This moment I sit in the same place. But in the dark of my room, buried under the rumbled quilts. Not above them. It is cold. So many voices through my house. The year was such a bigger part of my life than I can effectively write here. But if for nothing else it is so necessary to fulfill what has become my own custom. I cannot make a summary. But I can share a vignette and do my best to describe the most memorable moment of my year. It is an image that when I look at it in my mind still, I see it as illustrating every day, every thought, every prayer, every dream, and every hope that I have.
It is this.
Once my mother was at home in hospice I was able, to spend many days with her. Her bed was set up in the round, windowed sitting room off of her bedroom and each morning, we would watch the sunrise. She only opened her eyes every now and then. Sometimes to see me and smile. Sometimes to rub my belly. Mostly she would just look out at the water. Her face watching the sunrise was like a child. It was as though she was in disbelief at the beauty. She would frequently make the sign of the cross over herself. She had a hard time breathing. She had a hard time getting comfortable. I would rearrange her pillows dozens of times a day. I read prayers to her. I told her what the baby was doing in my belly. I brought in visitors now and then. My sister was there some days too. Juliana and Nicolas each a day too. But most of her 13 days at home in hospice care it was Dad and I. Day and night. I didn't want to ever leave her side or let go of her hand. I never wanted her to wake and not see anyone there. Even at night in the dark. Dad would beg me to go sleep. I kept trying to convince him that even 36 weeks pregnant I was fine to sit up in a chair at night next to her.
One night I finally made him feel a little better by curling up in the small sofa near her bed. I positioned myself and left a small light on so that she could see me. This room that she was in, it was where she had always read and prayed. It is filled with icons on the walls. Though most of it is windowed, with views out to the river. So at night you feel afloat almost. In a vessel. Very late when she sat up needing a drink, my father rushed to get it so that I wouldn't. I forced myself to lay there. Watching him help her to drink. She settled back into sleep, but sitting up in bed, as that was easier on her breathing. My father sat in the chair next to her bed. There was beautiful moonlight on the water all around in the dark. I could see the profile of their silhouettes. We all fell asleep. I awoke again. In the glowing room, from my place on the couch their heads bowing in sleep towards each other made a perfect archway against the moonlight outside and the walls aglow in low light from a single lamp. I looked around to the icons, all the saints, and Christ and the Holy Mother, and their gestures all seemed set in motion and alive, golden. I felt afloat. It all moved but not in a dizzying sort of way just in a very alive sort of way. I felt little Mary kicking within me. I was grateful to be present, I cried tears of thanks to be an adornment in this architecture of my family. Under their archway. Within this womb where my mother had invested prayer and love and thought for each of us every day. I will not forget that peace amidst the turmoil of losing one so dear. I will not forget the ever moving light that guided her and all of us through those days. Yes in sorrow. Yes in anguish. Still to this day it is sadness. But it is filled with hope and light and an example of how to live and I am thankful for all of it.
I nursed my precious girl in the dark of her room a few nights ago before finding my way to gently lay her in bed. I realized something about darkness and about myself. If you're patient and you trust everything that you know, your eyes will eventually adjust to all that needs to be seen. The rest falls away. You will able to see just enough to keep from stumbling in the dark. But it takes a little time. Remembering where you are.
I think my eyes are just now adjusting a bit to the dark.... this new life without my mom. There is so much to see. Much to do. Much to give thanks for. I am glad for the turn to a new year and the marked reason to see things a little fresher. I have been given sunrise after sunrise and I suppose another will come tomorrow.
I wish you love and light in 2014!!!
(On the needles above for my niece Grace, who shares a birthday with my mother in February...more on my knitting journey soon!)