Last Saturday, my mother's already tremulous health took a dip. Her eating and drinking, lately on the wane, has stopped. She sleeps unless interrupted by caregivers, nurses or doctors. When someone does try to change her clothing or take her blood-pressure, my mom has three slurred words for them, dictated, eyes closed, through clenched teeth. They are "Leave me alone." Sometimes, though less now, if she's feeling feisty it's five words. "Leave me the hell alone." One time she told the doctor that she - the doctor - was full of shit. The doctor agreed that she - my mother - was probably accurate.
The time has come to leave my mom alone. No more terrifying emergency room visits, my mother screaming, convinced that every unknown staff member is trying to kill her. No more medication beyond what's needed to keep her comfortable. It's time that she's released.
For the last few days I've been sitting at my mom's bedside. I've got Puccini playing on my Iphone, a jasmine candle burning (which I try to hide when the caregivers come in - who knows if it's allowed), my Big Crazy sweater wrapped around me, my book in my lap and my hand on my moms'. When she flinches in her sleep or - and this is rare - opens her unfocused eyes, I tell her I love her, that she's okay.
When I was a kid, I decided that my favorite thing to do with my mom was to wait. When the car broke down and we had to sit at the repair shop for hours, I was happy as a clam. I had my busy and distracted mother pinned to a space and time. She had no choice but to talk with me, to play with me, to laugh with me. Waiting, I decided, was really the only time I could get her full attention.
I'm now waiting again with my mom. But instead of her being the busy and distracted one, it's me. I've been forced - okay I've chosen - to drop everything and be in that room with her. I tell her stories of when we were young together; when she showed me the bird-nest on our porch complete with small blue eggs and gave a fumbled birds-and-the-bees talk, when we went to Tahoe in the summer and read and ate junk food and stayed up late, when she would tell me I was her little friend. I tell her that it's okay to go now. That Pop will be waiting for her. And her father. And her mother, who she lost when she was so small. The world waits outside, still spinning, still busy. We wait inside, in a stilled moment, breathing in and breathing out, me and my mama, together for a few more days, me memorizing her face, her lost in a dream.