sixteen days ago we celebrated with momma the release of her first published book. she is beautiful and fiercely independent at almost-94 and she was full of joy as she practiced ahead of time with a sharpie and then signed copies of books for all sorts of people who showed up at the signing of ‘shayne’ – the first in a trilogy of children’s books. at the end of this enormous day, we sipped martini & rossi asti spumante (momma and poppo’s favorite from days gone by) and we ate chocolate-covered strawberries in exultant glee.
fourteen days ago my almost-94 momma sent me a text message with her iphone that said she had mastered powering her electric wheelchair all the way downstairs to breakfast and again to dinner. she was amazed she did it and i know she was beautiful and fiercely independent as she made her way through the halls of her assisted living facility.
thirteen days ago my almost-94 momma was not having a good morning, but she was elated to see the diary notebook we brought her – we had searched for it and found it in a random bin in her garage. she gently stroked the notebook titled ‘europe 1971’ and i knew she would sit and read all the details, study all the maps, look at all the brochures and hold my dad’s hand and these cherished memories in her mind’s eye for hours and hours. she would envision her beautiful self and my handsome poppo in 1971 and their fierce independence to tour around europe for six weeks in the new vw bug they had purchased there.
nine days ago my almost-94 momma called to tell me that kelly had introduced her to new potential residents as “our newly published author” and momma was humbled and oh-so-excited to report this. i am positive she rose up in her wheelchair, beautiful and fiercely independent.
four days ago my almost-94 momma was found on the floor of her assisted living facility apartment and was rushed to the hospital. i am quite sure she was beautiful to the caring people who rushed to her aid, but maybe not so fiercely independent.
yesterday my almost-94 momma was just conscious enough in her hospital bed to look through my niece’s iphone to see me. tears were coursing down her cheeks and my sister wiped them away. she looked beautiful to me. her fiercely independent spirit is fighting seriously devastating infections. she is in a precarious place. i know she reaches in her mind to my dad in another plane of existence and yet, for now, she clings to this life here.
one day ago my almost-25 daughter was briefly in chicago and i had a wonderful opportunity to see her for a precious bit of time. she is beautiful and fiercely independent; she celebrates life on mountaintops and snowboard slopes and on hiking trails. yesterday i celebrated her life with her, a couple margaritas and a gluten-free pizza. life marches on. beauty and fierce independence are passed to the next and the next.
today my almost-94 momma continues to fight. she is tired and her fierce independence is challenged. but i do know that inside of this beautiful woman is a person who will make the decisions that she wants to make. joan wrote, “…one of those times when there is no way around. only through….a transition each makes alone in the end.”
as tears ran down my face this morning after another difficult call with my sister about my momma and her prognosis, david read to me a paragraph written by pema chodron called ‘the power of the pause’ – “a momentary contrast between being completely self-absorbed and being awake and present.” he read another quote as well…this one by martha beck, “real power is usually unspectacular, a simple setting aside of fear that allows the free flow of love. but it changes everything.”
and so i hold in this pause my beautiful and fiercely independent momma. i listen for her voice, i hold her in my arms and wait to feel her arms around me. i am awake and present and hyper-sensitive in my vigil with her. i do not know what the outcome of this huge physical trial will be. i try not to have fear. i am holding on and letting go. what i do know? before the pause, in the pause and after the pause i will always love her. her beautiful-ness and fierce independence. my sweet momma.