Mom ate for some 30,713 days. She stopped eating on Monday. We didn’t know how many days it would take, but “this” is where we are. Did we make it to the valley of peace?
I prayed for her peace, but I’m not ready for “this.”
“This” is the scary part, where some of us squirm, maybe leave the room.
“I’m here for it,” I told mom when we saw the bull charging her. “I’m here for it,” I told dad as we stayed the course to keep mom at home.
And I am. I am here for “this” and at peace. I’m also ill at ease. Deep inside, a sickening squall is threatening.
The squall might not push the rains into this peaceful valley right away, but the storm is swelling.
At peace and falling apart. Numb and raw. Here and absent.
If you ask me, I’ll tell you, “I’m fine.” It’s true and it’s not.
I’ll keep my eye on dad. He’s like me, or rather, I’m like him. Genetics? Environment? Maybe both produce the invisible squalls that brew in our bellies.
You’ll see him and think, “He’s taking this very well.” You might tell the one sitting next to you in the pew, “He’s strong.”
Dad’s at peace and he’s strong and maybe he’s a wreck.
We’re many things just now. But later, it’ll hit us later, the winds from those invisible squalls will splinter and parse, and the storm will enter.
Walking through the valley of peace
We’ve been waiting here with mom for years now. But this… “this” is the real waiting. For though I walk through the valley… “This” is the valley of peace.
I prayed for her peace.
And this is the path to peace.
I thought I was ready. I also thought I would skip this week, not write about “this,” this part where most of us leave the room. But I stayed and I write because you might walk through this valley one day too. Maybe you already have.
I do feel the peace in this valley. Doesn’t mean I’m ready.
Before mom’s younger sister died in 2019, on the way home from a visit to her, mom told me, “I hope she goes to sleep and doesn’t wake up.”
She’s known me 22,975 days. Mom understands my prayers. And she understands what it is to squirm in the valley of peace, what it is to feel splintered by the answers to our prayers.
©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2022
Oh Pennie, no one can know, but you, how you hold the treasures of the past mixed with the sorrow of the day, and all the days that follow. But you did well and your mother knew it. Treasure all you can.
A therapist provided support and wisdom to me during a personal storm. Apparently there was peace surrounding me, but not within. Often my physical, mental, and emotional steps were made with uncertainty and vulnerability. She held out both of her hands, palms up, same distance from her and the floor, and said, “You can be both courageous and fearful. Courage and fear are with you, yet not stopping one another or you.” Their coexistence and her hand visual became a rock of sorts as I navigated difficulties and challenges. Possibly the dichotomies in your world and experiences with your mother are the knowing rocks of your shared journey. I’m with you, Pennie.
Oh Pennie, so hard to take. Its easy to say she’ll be in a better place, no longer suffering, but you’ll miss her. I’m so sorry. Stay strong and you’ll make it through. Thank God you and your dad have each other.
I’ve been through this also, with a dear friend and also my mother in law, and am sending you a virtual hug. We who watch are ready and not ready. And the storm may strike more than once, and at the moment we least expect it. That is how it works. Perhaps we are never truly ready to say goodbye to someone who is interwoven into every fiber of our being. I wish you and your father peace at this difficult time.
I am not sure we are ever ready. Peace to you, my friend. And safe journey to your mama.
Oh, Pennie, your second sentence made me gasp. Daddy said those same words to me just over 20 years ago. He followed them with, “I think she’s preparing to go.” I was in the car 20 minutes later for the 6 hour drive.
You’re so ready and then not ready at all!
You’re happy for them. They get to go! But sad for you. You have to stay.
You want to wave, then with those same hands, clutch and hold.
And memories burst upon you with all the colour of exploding soap bubbles.
The very worst of times that bring you glimpses of your very best of times.
I walk this path with you…
Thanks, Diane. And you’re so right… all the things at once, happy/sad, ready/not, wave/hold, worst/best.