Wednesday, October 06, 2010

And the Hurt Goes On

Yesterday, I emailed on a friend of mine whose mother had a stroke similar to my mother's and who is also in hospice care, being wonderfully watched over.  She wrote back with "and how are YOU doing?"

Not well.  As I write that, I'm not sure what "well" is.  Maybe I'm just fine, but my "fineness" means living deep in sadness, again unable to sleep, no appetite, but when I do eat, I choose foods that are not the most healthy for me.

Going back to work has helped some, although I feel ineffective.  I also have to face the huge backlog of undone work, including the reality that Charge Conference reports are due soon and I've not even started (only United Methodist clergy can understand the horror of that situation!).  

Mostly, I think, "she's gone."  

My dining room table and my spare bedroom are littered with copies of her letters which I am trying to get into chronological order.  In December, my brother will return with a very nice scanner and we will scan all this into electronic form, but they've got to be in order first or I'll never be able to sort them out.  More than that, I simply want to talk with her about what I am reading.  I want to go deeper and understand more.  Another friend reminded me of what a treasure I have with these letters--so many people do not leave behind such a record of their lives, thoughts and ideas.  It is a great gift, and one that both brings me joy and adds to my sadness.

I've also found letters from my aunt, a trained nurse, who served at some mission stations in Africa and India from 1949-1954.  Although typed, they are hard to decipher--these are probably the third carbon done on an unreliable manual typewriter.  Every inch of the lightweight onionskin paper is covered with typeface.  Several times she wrote, "I still have an inch left on the paper so I can write some more." Obviously, she did not waste paper the way I do--for her a piece of paper was a treasure to be well-used.  Just as clearly, the work to which God had called her was extraordinarily difficult and ultimately took her physical health from her.  I wish I knew more but there is no one left to ask and other letters are long gone.

I'm troubled that I'm so off-balance by this, knowing that there are huge tragedies taking place all over the world.  The death of an elderly parent who had lived her life well, and whose final illness was mercifully brief, is not a tragedy.  It is life, and a good part of life.  But I've talked with several others who have lost their elderly parents like this and discover that our responses are similar.  We wander in a mist, doing our work, living our lives, and wondering when this fog is going to lift.

Now I must leave.  My wonderfully efficient sister, the executor of Mother's will, has given me some things I need to do in order to help finish the settling of the estate.  Tomorrow, I head back to what we are now calling "The Manor," the house my mother designed and lived in so happily, to clean out yet more closets before the next recycling/trash pickup.  

And the hurt goes on . . . 

1 comment:

Dana Norton said...

It has been less than a month. This is a time to be gentle with yourself. You will not live in deep sadness forever. However, our lives do matter and we are meant to experience sadness and loss when we can no longer pick up a phone or hop in a car to spend time with a loved one.