I wish I had the courage to face my mother’s dwindling years without the fear of losing her.
I wish I had the compassion to make her remaining years about her and not about me and my fears.
But it is difficult (as, I guess, most things that matter are). I love her, and it hurts to see her forget things that she should remember. It hurts to see her frailty. It hurts to think about her failing health, both mental and physical, and that some day I will get a call and she will be gone. I have raced to the hospital so many times already.
It hurts to know that I am too often too selfish to put aside my fears to honor her needs. I am not sure I know how to do that, or if she will even know it if I do.
I want to remember her as the vibrant young woman who cared so deeply for me and my siblings when we were children. I want to remember the woman I bragged about to friends as being the most beautiful woman in the world (although I must admit she is still so beautiful–just in a different kind of way). I want to remember staying up half the night with her playing Yahtzee and laughing and talking deeply and just enjoying being with her, this woman who loved me no matter what. I want to remember nights under starlit skies on the front lawn, sitting in silence and awed by the vastness of the universe, or both of us getting up in the middle of the night to stand at the window watching a thunder storm and feeling safe beside each other in the dark. I want to remember her kicking up her heels in dance or her laughter or her joy. Especially her laughter, complete with snorts, that always made me laugh, too. I want to remember.
I am ashamed that I am not a better son, that the older she gets the more I distance myself–even though I know I shouldn’t–because I want to remember her as she was when she was fully herself and because I am scared. Visiting her or calling her now leaves me mostly sad. I will do that today, but with reluctance and with that horrible fear that this Mother’s Day could be the last (or there could be ten more or who knows). I will tell her I love her, because I do, and I will hope that today is a day when that has meaning to her. I will hope that her mind is in a good place and she doesn’t repeat herself too much. However it goes this will become my most recent memory and that is my fear.
I am trying to remember now some other moments from days past. I am thinking of the dinner table, with all the plates turned over and treats hiding underneath. It’s a happy memory. It’s not about the treats, but the thoughtfulness and the love behind them.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you.