May 9, 2010. Mother’s Day. A more perfect spring day would be hard to imagine: sunshine, cool breeze and temperatures in the 60s. The trajectory of the day alternated between minding the store of memories of my mother, and fully experiencing the quiet joys of our day here: church, friends’ prayers, making a special lunch with Harper, taking the whole family to explore the Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail, and then a quiet evening at home. I will pack for and fly to Texas in the morning, and wait a little closer to Mom.
A thought-feeling arises over and over: I remember the last few days of being pregnant with Harper. I was so great with child there wasn’t much to do but eat, sleep, do laundry, and, well, go to the movies one last time without needing a babysitter. Strictly Ballroom, if I remember right. Good movie.
The thought arises because the feelings associated with waiting for Mom’s passing are similar. There is much that we sorted out over the last few years; there are a few things that did not get sorted out. But the time for that has passed. I think she will soon know and understand everything. That gives me peace.
I am the to-do list type, and a do-ahead person when I can be. When Harper was born, the nursery was ready, down to the stack of diapers and packages of wipes on the changing table. As the days have wound down for Mom, I have sometimes taken refuge in doing: prayers and to-do lists, names and phone numbers, the first drafts of obituary and eulogy, scriptures and hymns I know Mom liked.
Now there is nothing left but the being part – to be with her, hold her hand, and hope that the miracle of Real Presence will happen.
May 12, 2010. Wilma “Sis” Wones Brotzman passed away this morning at 4:55 am, an early morning hour that now feels like it was about a week ago. The last few days are an airport-and-bedside blur. Most of Monday was travel; I spent all day Tuesday into the night by Mom’s bedside, watching the changes she was going through as her body tried to figure things out, talking softly in her ear over the hiss of the oxygen machine. Hospice arranged for “eleventh hour” volunteers to sit with Mom overnight. I startled awake at 4:00 am this morning, feeling I needed to drive back over to the nursing facility. Her breathing was beginning to slow markedly, becoming less and less effective. Time seemed to slow along with her breathing … the last few breaths were ten, then fifteen seconds apart, more a slight motion of her jaw than actual respiration. And then she was done with the work of this life.
I was glad for the internal wake-up call … glad to be there, whispering “thank you” in her ear … glad to sit quietly with her for awhile, before the busyness of death’s aftermath. I know better than to think I have any perspective on this; for now, there is only peace. And that’s enough. After the pain of her last few years, it’s more than enough.