I'm feeling the burdens of life a little more heavily today than usual. I'm not by constitution a bouncy, cheery person--I married one of those, thank God--although I've always thought of myself as what I've called "a core optimist." What's happening lately, though, is a creeping suspicion that the description no longer fits me. Perhaps it's the nature of things lately that are adding to it, just the normal everyday stuff that's going on.
We've just returned from a short trip back to Louisiana--we were gone six days. We went for a couple of purposes. First, because my mom is celebrating her 92nd birthday. Wow. Seems to me that you have to show up for events like that. And mom is doing great from a physical standpoint. Mentally, she's drifty, but I have to say, coherent in short bursts. It could be a lot, lot worse with her. Which brings me to Susan's mom. Miss Sadie, as they call her at the small little care facility where she lives, is 87 and is obviously in the final few weeks of her life on this earth. And it is no life at all. She's minimally conscious most of the time, has trouble drawing the next breath, on morphine. She's been suffering with congestive heart failure for a number of years. My darling wife wants to spend as much time with her mom as possible . . . but I know it's a real struggle for her to witness what's happening. Because her mom, unlike mine, has no quality of life at all. Her care is impeccable and her caregivers loving and generous beyond imagining, but ultimately it's just a death watch. Susan wants to be with her at the end. It's the normal, natural thing. But it's so hard. This dying person, this once vital lady who raised a family of ten children and who loved life and every person who crossed the threshold of her home is but a pitiful shell of that person. It's almost unnatural that we should take leave of our life this way. What's left for MeMe but days of perhaps painful days stretching out until a merciful denouement? What's left for all who love her but to endure this indignity to her while the whole complex of their lifelong relationship swirls in their memories and hearts? While what she was and was to them is already a memory.
These are burdensome thoughts. Not unpleasant such much as just sad and heavy. There's a powerlessness in these instances that's so profound that is hangs like a heavy backpack on your shoulders. Relentless, silent, uncomfortable. Inevitable.