Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Legacies

Grief seems to span all of the emotions, more than I realized. I have laughed so hard. Found myself crying before my brain can even process the moment. When I talk about that moment she died, I can't describe the physiological emotion I feel inside me. It's like explaining the moment my children were born and that specific moment they emerged from my body. It's the most raw, vulnerable human experience I've ever been a part of having, and looking into my mother's eyes when she died...I will never forget that sensation and feeling. I am changed forever.

I feared it would feel like an ugliness, a sadness that rotted who I was and how I saw the world. And perhaps there might be moments like that popping up along the way. But what I felt most strongly, most irrevocably, is that I need to send myself out into the world to pass on the goodness. That who my mom was, and how much she gave to other people, somehow absorbed into me. That I've seen where we're heading. That finality of the last breath. What happened in her eyes. I will never be the same.

We were at the store and I saw two pictures that came in a pair. One said, "Live Every Moment." The other said, "Love Without Words." They were the thesis statements for what I felt in watching her die, so I bought them even though I don't know where I'll put them. That absolutely primal love that I felt for my mom, kissing her brow and squeezing her hand as the machinery of her body shut down. The only words I could say were how much I loved her. And "sweet mommy, sweet mommy" over and over. Just crying and crying. How intensely I needed to cry, not from fear or sadness, even...but this incredible sense of the power of the moment.

I walked out of the room after she died, with this bewilderment that there were people just standing around talking. Like it was any old moment! Like it was any old day. Didn't they know I just watched my mother die? That this was perhaps the most significant moment ever? I came home and curled up in the bathtub, Steve sitting next to me outside the tub as I talked and cried. I told him I wanted to walk up to people in the supermarket, the gas station and say: Have you ever watched somebody die? When you've seen the most pure side of humanity, death or birth, it simplifies things. All that matters is those persons you love. The persons you'd want in your first or last moments of life. What happens in between is just about making sure that moment is a positive one. That it can be a moment of peace.

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