Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunday Memories: In Memory Of A New York And A New Year

I came of age the day I lied to my mother. I was 50 and holding her hand. She was 84 and dying. It was Rosh Hoshanah

Her bones were trying to suck in dark bedroom air. I pleaded “Let me take you to the doctor…”

Her next to last words, “No.”

Pulling out wishes from years ago ‘save me unless I’m really dead,’ pleading again “you are in such distress…” and then my lie, “I promise you I’ll bring you home after. I promise you you’ll come home…”

Her last words, “OK.”

Other than the ER doctors telling me to wake my sister in Brooklyn NOW tell her to come to the hospital NOW, holding my mother’s hand was like any other 3:00 a.m. medical emergency, only this time she wasn’t fighting, singing, charming and admonishing me about how it was all my fault.

She did not come home. She died where she didn’t want to die. But she did not die in pain or fear or loneliness. She did not die in a bedroom made with decades of misery and disappointment.

Because I lied, she died holding my hand while my sister and I talked like machine guns about something else in our mother’s life we didn’t understand, which is just about everything. No longer the child who had failed her, I stepped into morning air with knowledge only gotten from absolute endings, and became a woman who survived a decision.

5 comments:

Melanie said...

Stirring piece. RIP MOMS! And DADS too!

Goggla said...

Ah, this made me cry...having just had a frightening health experience with my own mother, and her birthday being the day before this post, and this day being the anniversary of her father's death, when she had to go through a similar experience as yours...and I am so frightened of having that same experience...of walking out that door suddenly alone, unsupervised...yes, grown up, adult...that lie is the one we need to hear before granting permission to let go and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

c.o. moed said...

thank you so much, Goggla, for such a heartful comment.

I didn't know I could go through what I did but through this journey with Florence I found myself face to face with a depth of courage I didn't know I had. It was born from deep love to care and comfort someone I loved. What also surprised me in this journey was that because Florence was loved more during this time than ever before, I found myself comforted and buoyed knowing she died so loved.

VH McKenzie said...

This piece is making me cry -- and now the comments are making me cry. My own mother is in her 80's and still in fairly good shape. But I know the clock is ticking -- I worry both that I won't be by her side at the end of her life but also that I will be. Excruciating either way....

c.o. moed said...

Thank you so much! I so appreciate when someone shares so courageously.

I remember reading this piece about a woman having to suddenly prepare a funeral for her brother and she went through it saying this is love to everything she had to do or the people who came to comfort. love is sometimes excruiating...