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I have been reluctant to post this writing.  Later, I decided I would simply because I feel, you my devoted reader, will understand.  This originally was written on Christmas Eve.


Today is Christmas Eve, a day of magic, a day of happiness. As a little boy I always was anxious for night time to arrive to open the presents. The grown up in me, greeted the day joyously and anticipated the family being together, particularly since it made my Mother the happiest. Out of all the holidays in the year, my Mother loved the Christmas season. All the rooms in the farmhouse were decorated when I was a small child. Then after retirement, when my parents lived in town, the house was equally decorated. In Arizona, I knew that I needed to have the Christmas decorations up early for Momma and they needed to be more spectacular each year. On Christmas eve, Momma always came to my house and stayed through the holidays. There, I also knew I should have the house cheerful and twinkling. And for the past six years in our present house I have decorated the house inside and out. Last year was significant in the amount of decorations I put up and their locations. Momma was so happy. She could see them all from where she stayed in our big Family room.  This year, Momma will not be here. This year I am letting Christmas go by.

And then at night, on Christmas Eve, an unforgettable gift arrived:

The Christmas Gift, The Gift I Need to Remember
Today, quietly the eve of Christmas goes by,
it passes from gray at dawn to brilliant blue and white by noon.
And then this evening the night brings its chilly breath
to rustle through its darkened veil, whose stars glimmer upon my head.

On the eve of this Christmas, a voice whispered in my ear
from a luminescent cloud of red and blue drifting over my head.
To my ears came the same voice, the one locked in my heart
and now it comes to me from far above the blanket’s glow.

With heart beating, I question through a tightened throat,
“Momma, is that you?, are you all right?”
In return I’m asked why I am sad, where is my Christmas cheer?
“To soon when grief is with my heart, as it yearns for a yesteryear!

Momma tells me to look to my tomorrow and not for yesteryear,
“I’m fine,” she says, “Now you be fine, no longer should you worry.”
And then I realize no longer are there the colors of red and blue,
softly lighting the darkness of the room, the place that had just held joy.

To find the spell, to hear the voice I sit so quiet,
and I realize why, for that fleeting moment, why a visit came to me.
Where once tonight we opened presents and loved each other,

Momma came on Christmas Eve with a gift for me: Her voice, Her Love and My Tomorrow.

This isn’t a fictional poem, you may feel that it is, yet this is how it happened. I must now try to allow my gift to become more of a reality. It is a gift that is the most important that my Mother has ever given me. Her voice has eluded me now for weeks and now I remember how she spoke. I also need to move forward in life as my Mother would have. I can not stop the continual waves of memories I have, nor can I ignore the loss I feel. Momma was someone who could forge foward with an exuberant anticipation of tomorrow. I must attempt to do the same.

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Facing a Reality

Prelude

Once more I ask you to understand that this post is not about the Crepusculum.   The next post will once again address my feelings on entering my Crepusculum, but for now and for a couple more posts I will share with you my life as it is presently.

You are invited to play “You Are My Sunshine” by clicking the audio button.  This particular accompaniment is a recording by The Gene Autrey Band.  Sing along please.  The lyrics are slightly different than those originally written by Jimmy Davis and Charles Mitchell.  I first sang my version to my Mother four years ago while she was in the Critical Care Unit, following a major stroke.  It has become our anthem.

https://crepusculum60.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/you-are-my-sunshine.jpg

You Are My Sunshine

You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make me happy
When skies are grey, or purple, or pink….
You’ll never know dear
How much I love you
Please be be my sunshine for all of my days.

You are the Mother
I am the son–
You always have loved me
as much as I have loved you.
You’ll never know dear
How great you have been
Please be my sunshine for all of my days.

I have taken nearly a lifetime to accept the simple reality that my Mother will die.  Now I question, each day, will it be today, tomorrow or another day, but regardless it draws nearer and nearer.  The daily changes are significant, particularly, when Momma becomes quieter and quieter and less willing to speak or even answer a simple question.  Yesterday was the first day in three weeks that she interacted with me, but now today,  stopped responding this afternoon.  I don’t think that it is always in her power to communicate, even though there are times she can express displeasure very quickly.

It is during her quiet times that a phantom meets me face to face causing  me to be bewildered and  and weak  and  then I  realize how easily my nemesis reigns.

Daily I watch and understand her unhappiness and feel the malcontent within her heart.  I know that I would never be able to withstand the onslaught of degeneration she experiences and now I have begun to respond to that call and pray that I support her own orison that begs a speedy departure from this physical life.

Her beacon shines bright toward heaven and as she waits quietly and serenely, I  will support her appetency.  In so doing, a few weeks, ago  I wrote a poem embracing the idea of her departure.  By writing I hope the words will soothe and strengthen me,  particularly when my nemesis becomes overwhelming……….

You Are My Sunshine

Lately, I also realize I must tell this incorrigible, phantom it will not win.   I will support my Mother’s departure and I will repeatedly, read this poem because it came from deep within my heart and that its’ spirit will continue  to minister a balm that will ease me into change.   I have also begun to believe that Momma will be in a heavenly paradise where her spirit will no longer be plagued by her earthly pain and she will be able to be happy and be with everyone she loves that preceded her in death.  There she will also be able to be my Mother, standing with open arms and a warm smile, as she  welcomes my sister and I at our time.

A friend suggested that I prepare myself now for a new identity,  an updated life plan, where I  will no longer be a caretaker/protector, but one that allows growth in my own life.  I hadn’t really thought of this before because I intentionally blocked it from my thoughts.  Now I can see how important a plan is and how it will form a bridge between here and where I need to go.   As I have written before, my Mother’s wisdom shines yet to this day.  One day, not long ago,  my Mother spoke to my sister.  She repeatedly told my sister that she was worried for her.  Eventually, my sister reasoned that she was not speaking of her, but of me.  She was concerned about my life following her death.  Even so close to the end of her journey she expressed her concern for me.  When my sister told me, I didn’t think much of it until I understood that she knew before me that  I need to make new plans for my life.

I may have acquiesced to Momma’s orison, but in doing so I realize how little time I have left to get ready and to be with her.  And so I shall continue to write as much as I can to help me, but I also will spend as much time each day kneeling at her bedside, head to head so that my voice is directed straight to her ear;  Momma will quietly lie there, I will babble on as usual and then, every once in a while Momma will respond and I will send that moment directly to my heart to be locked away and not forgotten.

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So many days (weeks) have passed since I have posted. I have tried to write, especially at night, I sat in the darkened room at the little desk. As always, my Mother’s life support motors continued to whoosh and play in synchro-nized tones as I sat in the dark. The computer screen dimmed to maximum so the darkness wrapped around and cradled me.

Even as I sat in this well-known spot, the words rarely came. Instead, a stream of empty-headed babble floated in and around my head and quickly I began to feel very exhausted which then lead me to give up and go to bed. One more night wasted. Not only did I not write, but also the time sitting uselessly in the chair robbed me of the time I should be sleeping. It felt like a vicious cycle as the wasted hours accumulated and the body’s exhaustion peaked at new levels that take forever to lower. I admit I am sleep deprived and it does take rest for the mind to function. The body is a funny thing and shows you what needs to be done as it takes charge when I attempted to type. Without realizing it, I fell fast asleep. When I awakened only a moment later, I noticed that I needed to delete the letters and characters I had rested my fingers on as the body shut down for the moment.

The lack of sleep may make me continually disagreeable and it may cause my body to eat more than it should, but it is not the only cause for my lack of words. Lack of words, the blank mind, it is a worry to me. In addition, so many times, as I sat trying to write I found the things that bother me the most encroached upon my mind. These worries moved stealthily to the forefront of my thoughts and for a while I felt that it didn’t make any difference what I wrote about, yet I questioned how I could integrate them into my journey to my Crepusculum.

In the short time I have been posting, not all I write is directly related to my queries of the twilight, but I realize everything has the ability to influence my thinking and help me understand how I might react to problems during my time within my twilight. Any interaction I have is a permanent part of my experience and my experience will guide me down the path of exploration.

But then, I wonder, what do you, the reader, think if I continually make detours to salve the mind and let my worries come into your lives. Will you see them as I do or do you expect much more consistency in presenting issues that I face in preparation for the next stage of my life? Now after five paragraphs do you question the validity of my not writing before now? I am sure it seems like writing to you, but to me it has only been a way that I can move from a state of blankness to a state of combining words…. a state slightly less than written text.

Surprisingly now, I need to tell you more. I need to let you know how these past days have been so undirected. I am tired, very tired, but each day I know, I must go on. As I continue on each day (M. says I am not completely aware of what I do) I hope that I can continue giving my mother the same care as I have been, regardless that her care requirements have nearly tripled. I also wish that she is able to enjoy some form of happiness during this time and while these thoughts are active, I stop and remember all of you, as well as the other people who take the time to write me their well wishes.

Then, without hesitation, I take a very long moment to send peace to Shadowlands as she watches over her husband, and I especially hope that her heart gently safeguards her through these trying days as her husband passes into the shadows of his darkness. Of us two, she is the stronger and I read in awe of how she continues each new day, rarely beleaguered before him, yet inwardly being overwhelmed and possibly alone.

Therefore, he and my mother, as everyone does upon leaving their twilight, begin another journey, a final, unidirectional journey into a personal darkness. Some may say a light may guide you through that darkness, but even if it isn’t present often a living person can help by always being by their side. I know Shadowlands will walk with her husband every step of the way and I have promised my mother that I will be with her, regardless how long the journey may be.

The promises, the care, the worries, the tiredness are all a part of my life now. Even though they may be problematic, it is my choice. These are easy for me, as compared to that final moment, the final good bye, that realization that I will never hear her speak, just as Shadowlands will never hear her husband’s voice again. Sure, the voice has been a part of my life; I can listen to it in my head at any time, but never again in the spontaneous conversation that has always been between us. Therefore, I think of a time during my mother’s last hospitalization that becomes very poignant. A respiratory therapist told me quite firmly that I need to grab a hold and deal with my mother’s death, She repeated this even louder and firmer as she left the room…………”Deal with it! NOW!” The words still echo in my head, but particularly that day left me speechless and almost childlike. Now, with time to do its work I can say I may need to “deal with it”, I have tried unsuccessfully for too many years and now I know that there is no way I will ever be prepared!

Maybe now, once again I can write. I made it this far and my mind continues to be a tiny bit open. As I think on what I have written, it only reminds me how important it is for me to settle so much about my care when I reach that final journey, because I probably won’t have anyone I know to make sure everything will be as I want. I will be alone to walk through the darkness on a unidirectional journey.

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Presently, the night isn’t far from tomorrow. I can’t sleep and so I pace back and forth in the darkened room where my Mother sleeps. The only thing you hear, in the quiet of the house, is the swooshing sound of the oxygen concentrator and the cycle of pressured air headed toward the ventilator. In between those sounds, is the poof of blocked expiratory air by a peep valve that helps my Mother’s lungs remain open after she exhales.

The sounds of the machines, the glow of the numbers on the oximeter and the sight of her rising and falling chest calm me as I run from the reality of her death. I can’t imagine not being able to speak to her, be with her, listen to her voice and learn from what she says. So often she worries that no one who is around her will talk to her. She sits waiting or trying to talk to anyone, to whoever is here and then feels they never hear her. Oh yes, anyone can hear her, but I don’t think they realize she has something to say. It is difficult for them to grasp that Momma lives in two worlds. There is the one that is here in my home, the one within the terms of our reality, as we understand it. The second world is from her addled memories that concoct a world filled with her childhood family, still run by her mother, even though my mother is now eighty-six. Everyone tells me it does no good to explain to her that all this has happened because of her big stroke three years ago. Its not her fault at all and now after a month of explaining this to her I see a beginning to remember that it is important to trust me when I help her through these frightening times when there isn’t a way for her to recognize the right world.

Currently, not only is Momma frightened of her tomorrows but, I feel the same. I have been her son for sixty years and I feel I have just begun to find out all she knows, or especially all that is troubling her. We often laugh that we don’t have a problem communicating. I talk for hours and she tells me what is on her mind. No one understands just how much she thinks. I told her yesterday, that I believe they have no idea how alive with thought she is, even though it is inevitable that she slips farther and farther toward her darkest hour.

Occasionally she looks at me with a woeful face. I see her right hand frantically moving her warmer and I ask why is there such sadness and her response is: “I’m going to die.” Regardless of how many times she says this, even though usually it is used as an opener to share a thought, my immediate reaction is for my stomach to flip. I answer her by telling her I don’t have time for death at that particular moment. I ask if she can wait until I no longer am busy! However, she and I know what has just happened. Momma warns me, I hear her statement and I instantly ignore it.

Presently, Momma doesn’t even understand how I feel. Now every word, every utterance, every movement must be recorded in my memory. Often I look at her with eyes that truly are a camera because I need to memorize her face as she is now. I have her faces and voice recorded from the past, although there are times when my eyes are closed that I think my image lens must be broken because I can’t see or hear her. I panic because I need those thoughts and images to be available when I call for them in the future.

Possibly, it isn’t good that she and I are close. Momma was always there as I grew up during my first seventeenn years. She wiped up my childhood spills, encouraged my adolescent dreams and applauded my teen successes. When I moved from home to further my education she beamed with pride, yet during the first months following my draft she successfully hid her fears, only to have them reappear even more poignantly when I left for Vietnam. Each day held her in a paralyzing, embrace; an unrecognized panic by the people closest to her. When I returned I looked into her eyes and knew that she had suffered even more than I had.

Our inescapable bond continued during the intervening years before my father’s death, strengthened while we lived in Arizona and continued into our move to Illinois. Beginning before our last move, I became her consul, then Power of Attorney and now caretaker, confidante and companion. Inevitably, our bond continues and is maintained and allowed to grow.

Now, it is nearly impossible for her to travel beyond her doctor’s office. Some days to move from the bed to the sofa is too strenuous, while on other days her breathing can be sustained easily with the oxygen.

Tonight, the tenebrous room intensifies my mother’s own darkness. Standing by her I yearn for her twilight to return. I know that isn’t possible and I have promised to accompany her along her path of darkness; but continually I ask myself how I will ever face that ineluctable moment when I see two golden wings guiding her spirit to eternity. I know at that moment I shall bid her my heart filled with love, but I shall never say good Bye.

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