e_moon60 (e_moon60) wrote,

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Life provides us with the opportunity to mark time by personal events--birthdays, graduations, marriages, and deaths.   Every October 5 since 1990 has been an anniversary for me--my mother died on October 5, 1990.   Over the years since, the stark memories of her final decline, and the first months of grieving, have softened, overlain by other events, other anniversaries--births, graduations, marriages, and deaths.  But the day itself still hits like a baseball bat.  My mind refuses to ignore it, to treat it as an ordinary day.   It is split, constantly comparing, hour to hour, that day and this day--the October 5 in which I'm living.  The memory of that day--from waking up, from walking across the yard to her house, not knowing if she'd lived through the night, of finding her alive--awake--clearly waiting for me, the last word she said clearly, "Finally!"  through the next two hours before her last breath, as I sat with her, sang to her, fought my EMT/Paramedic urge to intervene, to try to bring life back to someone whose body was worn out, unable to sustain life, to allow her the peaceful, natural death she wanted--that memory is still vivid, still sharp enough to cut.  Every year it reminds me of her talents, her vivid wide-ranging intelligence, her humor, her kindness and service to others.   Reminds me that I saw there beside her, hand in hand, aware of the questions I hadn't asked, the complements I hadn't given.

Though most of the guilt is gone--we were both humans, parent and child--we both made mistakes, often with the best intentions (but bad execution and ignorance tripping us up, both of us)--and I don't berate myself for what I can't now change, the regret doesn't die.  Her life was cut short by chronic renal failure, which may or may not have resulted from a number of serious diseases she'd had earlier in her life, in the pre-antibiotic and pre-immunization days for the diseaes she caught.   Polio, malaria, brucellosis, measles, then mumps as an adult, then the renal failure.  She long outlived the doctor who'd told her she'd die in six months...by decades.  But it got her at last, though the family tree includes women who lived well into their 90s.

So on this anniversary of her death, I think of sitting beside her, our son busy drawing with crayons in the living room while I sat by the bed.   I remember the slant of light--the same slant of light we have today, and almost the same weather.  But this morning I got up early to get ready for church, and this morning at the same hour as her death, I was knitting in the parish hall before choir rehearsal for the second service.   At the time the funeral home's car arrived to pick up her body,  I was singing the offertory anthem.  And we were driving home at the time I was greeting visitors who had come to make their call on us.  Everything today--including now, as evening comes on--has a corresponding memory of that day.  What happened in those hours on previous anniversaries I can't recall...only that day, and this day.   Tomorrow, after this many years, has blurred the day after her death.  Gradually, over the years, the memory trigger shrank to just this one day.   But I suspect that this one will stick, bright and clear, to the end of my own mental clarity.   And that's fine with me.
Tags: anniversary, death

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