Saturday, 30 March 2013

The Condition of Waiting

A year and a week ago my mother died. It was a Friday, and in ways much like and unlike the Friday we have just experienced.

As hard as it is to say it - my mum had chosen to die; her long term illness had kept her in hospital debilitated and on dialysis. She chose to come home; she chose to come off dialysis; there was only one outcome. She wanted to see her birthday and Mother's Day; the timing was hopeful but not guaranteed. 

As it was - and I am not surprised by this -  she lived long enough to celebrate both special days and spent a few sunny and warm March weeks surrounded by her own mementos, flowers and cards with daily visits from friends and relatives. By the grace of God all four of us, her children, managed to get time from work; come from other countries and spend time together, taking our old familiar, family roles in the  home we had last lived in as teenagers. 

The night she died we had sat around the bed talking and laughing. It was my turn to be on watch; sleeping in the campbed next to her and within five minutes of my dozing off she had gone. Waiting, no doubt, for that quiet moment as people often do. 

What was important to my mum was her home, her family and her friends so we had already agreed that she would not be moved until we were ready. The doctor's visit was discrete and the night-nurses made her 'comfortable'.

The regular visitors, noticing the closed curtains, called in anyway - often staying just as long as before. The nurses had rang round the duty staff and some made a detour on their rounds to say goodbye. Sympathy cards mixed in with the birthday and Mother's Day cards. The flowers were joined by candles.

I was thinking this year, that this could well have been the death that Jesus would have prayed for; if only there had been another way. 

Then people realised that it was Friday; with the weekend ahead the phonecalls began. Registrars, funeral directors, booking churches and social clubs. The funeral directors arrived; compassionate but business-like. Appointments appeared to run like clockwork - her influence again, no doubt. 

Suddenly,  it was Saturday and the world that we had created in those few weeks began slowly to fall apart. The rhythm of the household unravelled. There was no need for the jigsaw pieces of travelling, shopping and caring to fit. The house could look after itself. Sitting quietly seemed self-indulgent when so many other things had been put aside for so long. Was it right to tidy up; to sit and talk; to clear away? What were the rules?

And the shift in perception - towards a person who filled the world with her presence and continued to do so. Was it wrong to be glad that the pain and frustration had ceased? Was it naive to believe that she was moving happily and freely in the garden she claimed Our Lady had promised her? Was it right to feel like an orphan, even at my age? To feel unable to honour all the promises she had wrung out of me?

That Saturday taught me the condition of waiting. A waiting that brought darkness to the days that followed. A waiting painfully full of questions that only time would answer. A waiting that seems to stop time. Emotions of grief, anger, frustration, even tears naming themselves but balanced in a vacuum of confusion whilst all around the world went on. I  needed this day even though it seems useless; needed to stand in the threshold of two worlds, patiently or otherwise, and recognise that one world had ended.

This Saturday the world goes on and I remember my mother and the person in the tomb that gave me joyful hope for her continuing journey. 

For Jesus who, year on year, will not have the blessing of a peaceful death, I will enter the condition of waiting. Sitting with the women who are waiting for the Sabbath to pass so that they can make their blessing. Waiting for the darkness to be over; for the Light to shine again. 

wordinthehand 2013 


Siggi in Downeast Maine said...

WoW. Such a well written memoir piece of such a difficult time for you ... and to weave it into Easter and the suffering of Jesus. Impressive and thought provoking... I thank you for sharing this piece of your history intertwined with the history of the world ... written with an eloquence that is to be honored.

My condolences on the death of your mother... and your mention of being an orphan...until recently, I'd only heard that expressed once in all my years of nursing the aging older man, with an aged father who had just died stood at my desk and said, "I'm an orphan now. He was always there, even when he was confused. I always had a father." I always remembered. that ... at any age we become orphans and always want them to be there, if only "one more day." There is much ore to ponder, but I will just thank you for a memorable post.
Easter blessings as you travel the Easter path.

Barbara In Caneyhead said...

If there is such a thing, your mother was blessed with a beautiful passing. I praise God for the joy and hope we have in Christ. May this season always bring you as much peace as I am sure last year did your mother.
Life & Faith in Caneyhead

Gelli Ma said...

Dear Both,
Thank you. A year later there is a different perspective - probably another next year. My real hope is that she rests in peace.

God Bless

Lynda said...

This is a beautiful and thought-provoking message. My mother died when I was thirty-two so with three little ones running around there was no time to pondering then although I was struck by being orphaned. It is a profoundly sad feeling to know that you are the "older generation" at that age. However, we are never really orphaned as long as we claim our Heavenly Father as our Abba and Mary as our Mother. God bless.

Gelli Ma said...

I suppose it is the family of Heaven, as well as those on earth that give me so much support Lynda, blessings to you

Comunita said...

When prayers are answered,sometimes the answer is Yes, but sometimes the answer is No! What I find difficult is when God asks me to be patient and WAIT.

Gelli Ma said...

Ah yes, Comunita - waiting on God's time is difficult for us mortals. blessings

Gelli Ma said...
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