Saturday, May 30, 2009

uncurling fingers

Every day, she inhabits her body more lightly.

A few days ago, she was fierce. Her moans became hums, quieting into sighs. She's silent now, lying quietly. It's been days since she opened her eyes and saw, days since she ate, since she drank, since she's worn her body with purpose.

When she opens her eyes now, they are red-rimmed and blank. I do not see her behind them. Her arm and hand move, lift, drop, her fingers seeking something and settling in my hand. But her fingers no longer curl around mine.

It's been days since she raised her hand and curved it around my neck, gently working her hand into my hair.

She barely breathes now, and there are long, stretched out times when she does not breathe at all. And yet, she is peaceful. The fierce insistence on breath, the need to live, with its knotted forehead and gripping hands has left. Two days ago, her feet began pointing stiffly to the window, as if marking a trail for her spirit to follow.

This is fierceness reworked into an inexorable acceptance. Or is this acceptance forced by inexorable reality? I can't tell. She's silent now, her lips closed on the explanations that none of us really need. She's let go of the bed rails, let go of our loving hands, and is letting go of her body. As her body quiets and her spirit disentangles itself from muscle, nerve and lung, something settles into place - I'd naively call it grace. It might, if I were more ruthless, be called absence. Or possibly, quiet.

We buzzed and hummed around her before, smoothing lotion on dry skin, massaging stiff muscles - meeting her needs where we could, inventing needs to fill our own. When she was fighting for breath, I found myself singing the boys' lullaby to her. It's the song I've sung in emergency rooms, during anaphylaxes, RSV, times when we struggled for breath and calm. Now, her quiet has no such need for music. And yet I'm humming again: od yavo shalom aleinu.

For her, peace has already come. Around her, the family is solemn and boisterous by turns, shooting hoops with the wrappers from lunch, rubbing her cold feet, wrapping an arm around a cousin's shoulder. They are holding vigil, and for a little while, I was able to join them.

But now it's time to come home.


Anonymous said...

Hugs, Mama...If only we will be so lucky to have our loved ones around us when we go.


Zina said...

It is a blessing that you are with her. Many hugs, thoughts, prayers. It is hard to see loved ones go. Jeff's grandfather just passed away and the funeral is Tuesday at the Cathedral in Baltimore.

Love to Savta and the rest of your family.