Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Not Her Keeper

These days spent at the hospital with my mother are so intense. Yesterday, I looked into her eyes, several times, and we locked in, and I smiled and I reminded her it was me, and she smiled back, to tell me her happiness. She liked it when I played her favorite tunes, songs she used to sing all the time before her stroke. And she surprised me when she reached out for a magazine. I found myself starting to hope. 

Then came the dinner tray, and she did not make it past the first spoonful of the green puree. Same with the yogurt, and the applesauce. I asked the nurse, and she could not give me any reassurance. Yes, it could mean the end is near, or not. 

Today, I arrived to find her lying in bed and hooked up to a monitor, eyes closed and seemingly in pain with a frozen frown on her face. I was told her heart had gone to 150 in the morning and she was under close watch again. She did not acknowledge my presence. Her roommate was screaming for her children to come and take her. I thought, how incredibly stressful this must be for my mother to be subjected to so much. And I realized there was nothing to do, other than sit by her side, hold her hand, and remind her often that I was there with her. 

Ayya Khema says this about love: 

My attachment and my fear can only have a negative influence on my love. My children do not belong to me; they belong to themselves. I'm not their keeper, any more than they are my keepers. We are linked to each other, but not bound to each other - that is a huge difference. 
~ from I Give You My Life

Ayya Khema is referring to her children, but the same goes with our parents. I have been watching grief take hold in my body, a very physical sensation akin to being torn apart, literally. The stronger the bond, the more painful the parting, and there is certainly no stronger tie than between mother and child. It goes both ways. I am grateful for the practice to point me in the right direction. I am to feel the grief, fully, and relax around it, giving it space, and guarding the mind from adding more. My mother needs me to be at peace, and free from the anxiety of anticipated loss.

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