Making sense

Anne Lamott, on writing ...

"We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little. But we do. We have so much we want to say and figure out.”

Monday, April 16, 2012

So much, so much, so much ...

So much has happened these last six weeks. March certainly came in like a lion.
My husband had a brush with a heart attack. A scary-ass emergency room visit and an overnight stay. A treadmill stress test; an echocardiogram. No heart attack. We don't know why he had chest pain that snaked down his left arm and left him weak, shaky.
A week later, our daughter (age 26) slipped on the driveway at 4:15 a.m., attempting to leave for her opening barista shift ~ and broke her wrist, having fallen on a slippery driveway, courtesy of the only snowfall we had this winter.
Two weeks later, back to the emergency room. Arm-in-cast daughter, doubled over with abdominal pain. A dysfunctional gallbladder to blame. Emergency surgery to yank out the tiny troublesome organ.
My mom died. On Sunday, March 25, 2012, shortly before 1 p.m., she took her last breath. Her artificial heart valve stopped its tick-tick-tick-tick. Although she had been ill for years, her death at Kansas City Hospice House shocked me. I had thought I would be ready when it finally happened. Figured I would feel a sense of relief. Thought I would softly cry and kiss her tenderly on the forehead and tell her goodbye like they do in Hallmark made-for-TV movies.
No, none of the above. Instead, I lost my shit. Threw my body onto hers and heaved anguished cries. I felt strangely detached from my own body. What came out of me was visceral and uncontrolled. I'm so stupid, I'm so stupid, I'm so stupid I sobbed ~ no, wailed ~ not giving a single care to the other people in the room ~ my sister Kelly, the chaplain, a hospice nurse, Kelly's fiance. Oh God, Oh God, Oh God. Mama. Mama. Mama. Oh my God, I'm so stupid, so stupid, so stupid.
So stupid for thinking it would be easy. I shook my head back and forth, rapidly, clenched my eyes shut, hoping that when I opened them that Mom would still be breathing, her valve softly ticking.
Watching Mom die was even worse than watching my father bleed to death back in '07, and I certainly never in a thousand million years would have thought my mother's death would affect me more deeply.
I didn't want to leave her body. I lingered, asked for scissors to cut some of her hair, wanted to crawl into the bed with her, spoon her, scratch her back, sniff her hair, hold her until she became completely cold. I took a picture of her in death using my iPhone.
I look at that picture every day. It does not frighten me; it does not comfort me.
It is.
They made me leave.

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