Sunday, November 20, 2016
Sometimes strength feels like brokenness
Yesterday was a mixed feeling type of day while visiting my mother at her house. I felt wonderful that it went so well; that Mom and I bonded in the kitchen with a little cooking project. She peeled potatoes while I fixed pork tenderloin. She laughed so much, and shared some sweet stories. And yet at other times, she broke apart while talking about my dad.
I walked through the rooms of the house I had lived in from the early nineteen seventies. My old bedroom became my brother's room, and then later our father's little workshop. Many of Dad's projects are in that room--boat models, thousand piece puzzles he'd glued together and hung as pictures on the walls. A huge dollhouse, completed, sits on a built-in dresser--the tiny furniture askew in the many rooms--now forgotten. And everywhere--Dad. . . His little notebooks filled with writing; organizing the many bills he paid and doctor visits he kept in order. A few of his favorite DVD's still lay scattered about the room, as we haven't had the heart to move them just yet.
My parent's room still had dad's shirts folded over and old blanket rack. I picked one up and became lost in the scent of my father, and memories which threatened to start me sobbing uncontrollably. I looked at the furniture in the room, an old bedroom set my parents had since I was a little girl. Many nights I used to wander into the room, frightened from a bad dream to make sure my parents were there. And Dad would wake to take me back to bed.
Mom began nodding off after our beautiful dinner yesterday. And the innocence of her dementia hit me hard. Once the strongest woman I'd known, she now talks like a little girl at times--memories of the past more clear than those that just happened. I thought about her life and the time she had with my father. They'd been married over sixty years. They'd shared a love like no other I'd seen, for they remained with one another through good times and bad. Moments of plenty and moments of lack. Sickness and health. Yes, they'd taken their wedding vows quite seriously. And my heart broke into tiny shards watching Mom sleep, and knowing she'd awaken alone once again without the love of her life there beside her.
We talked yesterday of death, replaying the moments Dad had been in the hospital and the events which led to his passing. When my mother seemed to spiral downward, when depression threatened at its ugliest, I reminded her that she knew better than anyone. The near death experience she'd gone through in the early seventies were proof of the Love we will know and the Place we are headed. Dad is waiting for her there, and she will spend eternity with him. In her cute childlike way, she said, "Oh, I'd forgotten about that."
We are broken right now--my family. And in our time of grief, there have been moments that we showed a strength I didn't think we'd possess.
I chatted with a friend this morning who'd lost her beloved husband some months back. We spoke of our loved ones and how much we miss them. We reminisced about better times and happy memories. And she said something to me that really made me think. She said, "Sometimes strength feels like brokenness." It didn't take me long to realize just how true that is.