Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Facing my Mother's Death

Back in 2007 I posted this:

and she's still here. Turning 85 today. So she's already lived a more than a year beyond the diagnosis. But something's different. She seems ready to die now. And it's hardening/closing faster, leaving her short of breath. I had to go down and clean up her apt. so she could come home from rehab after a small heart attack and small stroke that have left her blind in one eye. There's so much I could write about it, but I'm still processing--what I feel, what I need. They are saying six months now.

We finally had that sort of peace that I was looking for. And now I hate myself for all the wasted years, but I can't do that. They might have been exactly as I feared they would be--all anger and pain. But now I need more time, more time, and that is what we never get.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Childhood's End

I'm cleaning out my mother's apartment. She's not dead yet, but they say it's just a matter of time. And it needs to be clean before she can come out of rehab. My mother is a hoarder. My mother is a hoarder's hoarder. We've carted 2 station wagons worth to the thrift store, and this is a three room apartment. We've barely begun. I found a box of Christmas ornaments from my childhood and sat down and cried.

I'm finding it hard to function--both because it's a daunting task, and because it renders everything so futile. If we will all end up like this then why should we buy anything now. Much talk with my therapist about this. That we buy things to make us happy now--the future is the future and many people (not my mother) start to weed as they get older--finding less and less that objects are important. I am already less of a purchaser and I have never been the hoarder that my mother is. A collector, perhaps, but when things don't fit in shelves, they have to go. Zen teaches the release of all things--that even emotions are fleeting things, certainly objects are.

But added to the simple stress of cleaning an overcrowded apartment, is being face-to-face with the death of my last parent. That I must deal with all the pieces that she has used to get herself through, and that I will suddenly be no one's child. There will be nothing between myself and my own mortality. Not that there ever really is, but we lie to ourselves. My mother is 85. It's hardly a tragedy to die at her age, she is two generations removed from me, but at the same time, it is relatively early in my time with her--when friends parents are young and robust at 60 or 65 now. And I have deliberately kept myself away from her, so what years we had are lost.

My therapist says too that I cannot blame myself for that either--that I did what I needed to do to protect myself, but my guilt and stress, blame and anger does not respond to such intellectual reasoning.