for Pat Adair, and the people who love her...

Our beloved Pat got some shocking news recently, and we're off and running on a mysterious medical adventure. Not an adventure we would have picked, but we're off just the same... (If you're new to the blog, start here.)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

An interesting thought

I can go for weeks without having a single interesting thought. This isn't one of those weeks.

Tonight the question I'm pondering is this: Am I seeing the world more clearly now, when everything appears soaked in Love, or is that merely the filter that I happen to be perceiving things through at the moment? There's a beautiful El Salvadoran woman who works here, with a perfect round face, natural brilliant teeth that would make any orthodontist proud, and a dimpled smile that makes me melt. Mike and I chatted with her at length about her grandkids, and she glowed. And we glowed. She looks like the personification of love, and the love for her family oozes from her. (She does, after all, work in a hospice, which tells you something about her character.) My mother looks like a goddess, and I have the impulse to look deeply and at length at each of the people that I meet here. I like people a lot, but this is something else. Am I seeing a beauty that always exists within people, but don't normally see? I don't know the answer - but I like the question. And paradoxically for our Western minds, I think it's more important to ask the question than to settle on an answer. (Well, then what kind of a question is that?! Oh - that's a good question. Add that one to the list.)

We had more magical moments with Mom today, and she's been the most verbal and awake that she's been for maybe three days. For days now, every time she comes to enough to pucker up for a kiss or say a word, we think it may be the last time. We're surprised and overjoyed that it's continued. There's something about knowing that these moments are finite and can't continue for very long that makes them precious beyond words. Mom went for a long spell today where she was speaking in almost whole sentences. Not all of them made sense, but most of them did. Mike said that Mom's sort of boiled down to her essential goodness right now, and I agree. She's still worried about everyone else, and asked that we not make a big fuss over her. When my ex-mother-in-law Barbara came to visit, Mom said, "Well, don't you look nice." (I got a bonus today - Barbara agreed to drop the ex-, and just be my mother-in-law, since I never replaced her with another one. I'm happy about that!) Mom's been as gracious and accommodating on her deathbed as she was as a patient these last six months. When we ask if she's OK, she says, "Oh, yes, I'm fine." How sweet is that.

At one point she asked us to lift her arms. We said, "What should we do with them?" and she said, "Put them in the drawer of the nightstand." That was a good one.

Right now it's 2 a.m., and Mom's breathing is starting to change. She starting the pattern that was described to us, where she pauses for some seconds between breaths periodically. It can happen for as long as 45 seconds, apparently, which I think might kill me to witness. It's hard just to hear her pause for a few seconds then gasp as she catches her breath. Mike is sleeping in the recliner just next to Mom as I type this, and the two of them are doing a pretty good snoring duet.

I realized today that the "cost" of Mom's continued presence during these days is that it will be that much harder for me when she goes. In spite of how I talk about this time, nothing is fixed or static. It is an incredibly beautiful, rich and rewarding time, but if you pay attention, it's changing by the moment. Sometimes I'm very calm and non-emotional, and then something grabs me and I'm crying like a baby. One of those times today was when Mom was talking to me and Mike for some time and it hit me, again, that she's dying. I find that I can forget and remember in a flash. Ouch.

I guess I should go. We're running on fumes here, getting around three or four hours of sleep a night, and I should take this chance to sleep. But like a kid, I don't want to miss anything. And now that Mom's breathing is changing, I'm wondering what's going on.

That's a fair question: what IS going on? Not choppy breath vs. slow breath - but life - it's beginning and it's end. Why is this all so profoundly moving? Now that's a question worth pondering.



At June 28, 2008 7:49 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dave and family,
We are absolutely dogging the computer to read updates on Pat. We (I) am thrilled, touched, emotional beyond describing to read about these 'farewell' moments with Pat. The profoundity of watching/witnessing/helping life to end well and see beauty and love in the process that you are experiencing reminds me vividly of the death and post death experiences, feelings and emotions of Matt K upon losing his daughter Emma earlier this year. Perhaps if you haven't looked at it recently, you might want to re-visit that portion of his blog sometime sooner or later. Here is the link again:

Not that all such experiences are similar or equal, but there is certainly a resonance for me in these two moments. We are thinking of you constantly and always with love and best wishes, Kim


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