Tuesday, June 30, 2009

life changes (that's a verb)

This day be within and without me, lowly and meek yet all powerful.

Those words are part of our regular family devotions, nestled right in the middle of our centering prayer: to remind us that Christ is our Light and Shield.

I have wanted to think and respond to our trip East. My first remarks about Detroit were a start. Then the trip took on a life of its own and I was in the passenger seat--living it and loving it.

Now we are back. I will reminisce. But not now. I am in the middle of a difficult learning curve. I am watching my mother as she halts and races towards her finish line. She is desperately unhappy. She wants to be home. She asks why she is still here, what good she is. Her body is betraying her, but not so as to let her go.

It is difficult to watch someone suffer, especially when you can do nothing to help. As Dad lay in his hospital bed, they administered morphine when the pain was great. There is no morphine for Mom. She totters. Her speech garbles. She gets frustrated and hits her head. Her ears are her greatest enemy: she cannot hear the ones she loves. She cannot carry on a conversation over dinner. The dining room is her personal inferno. Every meal is dreaded.

She is not suffering from dementia. She is aware, but cannot do what she used to do. My poor, dear, sweet Mom. Loneliness is the worst of all. Each time I leave her apartment, her face is crestfallen. She says, "What am I going to do?"

Our medical system has taken some of the easier ways to die and left her with something slower, draining, defeating.

I have thought much about it. Here I won't pontificate. But I am learning from the immense feeling of helplessness of watching someone fade ever so slowly: here is something I can't fix, someone I can't help. Being a mom has given me a false sense of competence. There are so many ways I can "fix" what is broken when my kids are small. But the end is not the same as the beginning, no matter the similarities we find.

The end is so very unknown. We cannot use our life savvy for this. That is why I need someOne in me who is lowly and meek, yet all powerful. Someone who is also on the other side. Someone who knows it all.