My mother died almost two weeks ago. She was elderly, very frail with late-stage Alzheimer's, and, at the end, very sick with pneumonia. I have been telling people (who nod in affirmation) that it was "her time." And it was. At any rate, "her time," is a nice, tidy summation that cleverly avoids the deep tangle of emotions that the death of a mother stirs up. I have wondered, though, if she--or anyone else staring so intently at the great divide--would have agreed with the idea it being of "her time." I like to think her spirit argued back, telling me--if I could have either listened or heard--where to shove my notion of other people's "time". But in truth I don't know what conversation she was having with life, with death.
She spent the last five years in a home for assisted living. During her stay she collected a handful of stuffed animals (one, her final favorite, which she clasped by the tail to the very end, before the hospital and The End took over, went with her to the grave--a good dog and a good friend.) The rest though--what to do? This is not an easy question for a woman who still deeply regrets the unilateral action the teenage me took one day, getting rid of all my childhood dolls and stuffed animals in one swoop. Oh, to turn back the clock, and box my 17 year-old ears! The loss still hurts.
I decided that those animals that survived the washing machine could stay. One, alas, was beyond even that, but the others took the dive quite cheerfully and came through intact. Right now they are thumping around in the dryer.
A thumping dryer has always been a comforting sound to me. After the huge difficulty of death and funeral, I feel my spirits lifting a bit. My mother's lungs failed, but mine, for the moment, still work. A selfish thought, maybe, but life never apologizes for itself.