Life just keeps coming.
So much of it comes in December, I can barely keep even. From the moment the Christmas lights come on after Thanksgiving and for as long as they burn seems one held breath. The last lights on the block, the ones outside my window on the house across the street are finally out. Down. It’s all about the Christmas lights. Maybe exhale now. Maybe not.
My sister calls to say our mother isn’t doing well. She had a fall a couple months ago that accelerated everything it seems, but she was doing better. Now she’s not. Thirteen years ago we brought my mother and father to live with us because dad wasn’t doing well. Now living with my sister, it’s my mother’s turn.
I work on as many December-turned-January items as I can until the boys are home from school and we all climb into the car and drive to visit mom, nana. It’s an hour and a half, just far enough to make it difficult to do regularly, unfamiliar enough to miss an exit and wander side streets for a bit. But we get there. Long hugs at the door, the hum of the oxygen machine at the hallway, the hospice nurse at the kitchen table logging charts. Our oldest daughter is already there, so we’re all there, my whole family, my sister, my mother, the whole bloodline in a two bedroom apartment…with a nurse.
My mother’s room is dim, and she startles awake at my sister’s touch. There’s recognition in her eyes when she looks at me, a smile. We all stand around the bed, my sister narrating loudly in her ear. She seems just a face above rumpled bedding, and after a few minutes she’s asleep again so we file back out to talk in the front room. My sister offers coffee so I follow her to the kitchen where she asks what we should do about arrangements. We need to make arrangements. We talk for awhile then bring out coffee. I slip back to my mother’s room.
There in the dim light, I take her hand and she startles again, sees me, squeezes. I tell her I love her; I’m sorry I’ve not been around more. Not as loud as my practiced sister, I get close to her ear but don’t know if she hears. She drifts off again, and I remain with her hand and her face and the voices in the next room–sitting squarely between the oxygen machine and the Sponge Bob stories from our animated eight year old.
Life just keeps coming. Who knew I’d get this old, have this family, outlive one parent, maybe another soon? I’m not sure what I should feel. Don’t feel anything at the moment. Just the awareness of being exactly in the middle of life drifting off one side and just catching stride on the other. Thinking of life in snapshots is not accurate. It’s always in motion but hard to see, like the hands of a clock. Except in a dim room caught between generations when the curtain is pulled and the gears show for just a moment.
Life just keeps coming. I need to remember.