Tuesday, May 25, 2010

HOW ...

It is two weeks and a day since my mother passed away. I had not anticipated how my world was going to change.

I have lost a lot of people who I was very close to over a number of years. I have lost a brother, a cousin almost the same age as me, numerous friends the same age as me, and friends who were younger than me. What I find in the passing of my mother, and what has made this different from all these other losses, is that there is no tragedy in this. My mother’s passing, as sad as it is, is in line with the natural order of things. I find this comforting and the emotions so much easier to manage than the chaos of the other losses. At those times, I felt like I didn’t know on any level what was happening other than feeling like it shouldn’t have been happening. I never knew where to put those emotions and it took a long time for that chaos to shift to calm. There has been no chaos in this for me. There has and is a lot of calm in this for me. But what I am overwhelmed with is the hugeness of my sadness. I honestly cannot articulate this in any better way. I have never experienced this kind of huge sadness ever before in my entire life. I have expressed it to a number of people by saying that I feel like I have been hit over the head with a wok and I am trapped in the “boing” sound.

At the same time as all this sadness, however, I am experiencing an equally deep sense of gratitude. I am grateful for the fact that through the enormous generosity of a family friend and the help of members of my immediate family, we were able to meet my mother’s request of keeping her in her own home as this is where she wanted to be at the time of her passing. We were able to give her this. How do you ever reciprocate this kind of generosity? Betty was her personal care giver for well over a year. Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, this kind and generous woman was there for my mom and by being there, made it possible for me and my sister to put our heads down at night knowing our mother was in good hands. How does one ever reciprocate this kind of kindness?
Two and a half years ago, Pauline was given a prognosis of 6 months (without treatment), to a year. With her incredible strength and faith in living her G-d given days, she opted for no chemo or any other treatment. Having seen the suffering that other loved ones endured in their fights against cancer, Pauline’s journey can only be described as miraculous. While this made her illness like a slow train coming, as a result of a fall a week prior to her passing, we believe internal bleeding suddenly brought on a turn for the worse and with no warning, from one day to the next, it was clear that the beginning of her end process had begun. This took a mere two and a half days … after two and a half years of being the “healthiest” terminally ill person I have ever seen. Although sudden, we were all still fortunate enough to have our chance to say our goodbyes. We were all able to be at her side when she wanted us there most. We were able to linger in her home after she was taken away from us. As DDTF and I drove out of the parking area in her apartment complex, I said to him that I was feeling so much gratitude about being able to walk away from her home, rather than from an arbitrary hospital room. Through the indescribable help and care from the Compassionate Care Hospice organization, we were guided through this process in such a way that Pauline’s physical comfort and pain management were of priority over that two and a half day period. I felt so much gratitude that Pauline did not have to have tubes and needles and machines pulled out of her tiny, little body at that time. How do you give back on this level?

I had not given much thought to how I would be or what I would feel when my mother’s final moments approached. I am very much a heart centered person. I feel things first, then I think about them. My feelings and emotional responses to life are never pre-meditated. I cannot anticipate how I am going to feel about things before they happen. I trust my instinct to guide me through and I know my intellect will play its part in dealing with my choices as I go through them. It was because of this that it was moment-by- moment for me and when I felt in my heart that I did not want to see my mother actually pass away, I knew it was ok to feel that way. My sister, her husband, Betty and DDTF were there. I placed a photograph of Pauline with Ross on her bed and a photograph of my late brother on the bed, too. I hadn’t planned that or thought about, it just happened that way for me. I said my goodbye, and I left the room. It felt to me that everyone followed about fifteen minutes later, but DDTF said it was no more than about two minutes prior to her final breaths that I had left the room. It ultimately doesn’t matter what that length of time was. How it happened felt totally ok for me.

I will always remember the feeling in my heart at 1:12pm on May 10th, 2010. Two months short of her 87th birthday, my darling mother transitioned from this world to where I believe is her final resting place. I also believe she is reunited with the many people she has loved and yearned for, for many years. What I have felt since then, is that it was only at that moment in time that the cord between me and my mother was cut. Be it a play on words or not, of course I am aware that it was cut at birth, but it feels to me that this was the moment where the disconnect actually took place – not a minute before. The transition is then from that physical connection to what we speak of and describe as her now being in my heart and part of my soul for ever. What I also feel is that I came hurtling into adulthood in that single moment. It is now my turn to be the elder in my little family. So, for me there is clearly profound re-adjusting and re-aligning to do.

I had not made any decisions about the extent to which I would observe the mourning laws and rituals. What I can say is that I felt a need to DO something to express the feelings of my huge sadness, and the most comforting thing for me was to be as observant of my traditions that the extent of my knowledge allowed.

If I look at the questions I have raised in this short period of time -
How does one ever reciprocate this kind of generosity?
How does one ever reciprocate this kind of kindness?
How do you give back on this level?
- I say what my young child said to me after saying goodbye to his Bobba. He said, “Mommy, we just have to do as many mitzvahs* as possible every day to honor Bobba’s memory.”
That's how! My instinct tells me it really is that simple.
My Beloved Mother
Pauline Blumberg
July 10, 1923 to May 10, 2010
From Lithuania to New Jersey, USA
and so, so much in between!
May Your Deal Soul Rest In Peace For Ever
*in its simplest form: a meritorious or charitable act – a good deed