"What is central to your life is peripheral to others." Author and radio personality Dennis Prager said it at a lecture the husband and I attended earlier this year. I jotted it down in a little journal I carry in my purse, thinking it was true and that I would want to remember it down the road.
Down the road I am. Pacific Coast Highway, Hermosa Beach, just South of Pier Avenue to be specific, and it hits me like a ton of steel: the world is carrying on, completely unaware that a huge part of me has disintegrated into thin air. There is a hole in me you could drive a hummer through, yet no one around me notices. The oxymoronic invisible hole that is me, or more accurately, what used to be me. This event, through which everything else is now filtered, is unknown to the masses I rub elbows with as I move through the days and nights since that day.
Mother's Day. Ironic, yes? Just hours after her four children gathered around her hospital bed, the one who carried me in her body, gave me life, pushed me into the world and gave me my beginnings, left this world. She, who had been with me from the very beginning, an anchor of sorts, gracefully slipped from this life to the next.
We met with a kind doctor. A man with warm eyes and a caring heart. He told us what we long suspected but hadn't spoken; that her body was telling us what she wanted and that it was time to think about what her wishes were. We decided it was time, to let go. After more than two weeks of ventilators, dialysis machines and round the clock 24 hour one on one nursing care, it was time. She was tired. The evidence was clear. There was no going back to the life she had once had.
We returned to her room. Tubes were disconnected. Machines shut down. Medications stopped. The room that had relentlessly hummed with beeps and gurgles and flashing numbers grew mournfully silent. A curtain was drawn. We removed our gowns and masks. We touched her skin to skin...massaged her feet and arms and hands with warm lotion. We played her favorite songs and we prayed. We bid her farewell and urged her to her to look for Poppa. We knew he'd be waiting for her. For Jesus, who saved her. For her own dear Mother and sisters and brothers and friends who had gone ahead of her.
She slipped away quickly, painlessly and gently. We said our good byes. And there was peace, trusting that the satisfaction she always yearned for and never quite found on this planet was finally hers. That was over a month ago. And, I am still paralyzed.
I did not expect this depth of sorrow. I really thought there would be a greater sense of serenity, more relief that her battle was over. I did not expect to feel so adrift-the proverbial ship without an anchor. Whatever her issues, she grounded me in a way no one else ever could. She was ever present in my life. My only remaining parent, and now she is gone. There is an enormous void I was not prepared for.
This is going to be a long journey and I've only just begun.