Carry On Living

carry on living man and woman dressed up

Recently my mother died, and now I’m an orphan. Even worse, I’m not cute enough to be adopted by Daddy Warbucks, which is a great sadness to me – and even more of a tragedy for Daddy Warbucks, in my opinion. Sometimes it feels like the sun won’t come out tomorrow, but I know that it will. These things shall pass. My dad died suddenly twenty years ago of a heart attack, and although I think I’ve gotten over it – you know, you never do, really. I just got used to it. Time passes, grief ebbs and flows like waves, and eventually, life always gets easier. I know this, for a fact.

Mother had dementia, so we lost her progressively: over the course of nearly fifteen years. When she moved into a residential home, we had to clear out her house as if she’d died. Then, we watched her deteriorate. We’ve said our farewells so many times, I should be used to it by now. It should be a relief, even. It’s a blessing she’s no longer suffering, after all. It’s just me, then. But these things, too, shall pass.

Despite the pain of it all, I still have happy things to recall. It was in these later years that we were possibly the closest we’d ever been. Before then, there had been no reason to sit so close, watch her gentle breathing, and study smooth her porcelain skin. I’d spend hours spoon-feeding her, her mouth opening like a baby bird’s. Or I’d sit next to her, giving her sips of drink or just waiting for her to chew her food, watching for my cue to feed her more. I measured her life in millilitres of nutritional milkshake. Life is even more purposeful, and there’s no greater purpose than living – and loving, simply.

Child-like, my mother gazed around in wonder. Often she held her favorite stuffed toy – a monkey – her hands always busy, rubbing its fur, pulling, picking at threads. Her face smiling, she constantly hummed a tune which had become conversation to her. It’s called echolalia – the repetition of sounds – a sing-song la-la-la, in la-la-land.

Now, I have to find consolation in the simplest things. I have to summon creativity and make something out of nothingness. Oddly enough, I have an urge to be pregnant. Or maybe it’s not so strange, to want to fill a hollowness, or give life to someone else. I won’t, of course – because I know these feelings, too, will pass.

Wordlessly, she taught me great lessons for life: Cherish the little things. Accept everything. Live in the moment. Hug and hold on. Above all – love.


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