is it the time yet?

She has stopped eating unless I feed her (except for coffee and homemade sweet bread) and she sleeps almost all of the time. And she doesn’t talk. And she cries.
Yesterday, I got her to tell me why she was crying. “I’m afraid,” she muttered, devoid of energy, of purpose. She was sitting at the kitchen table, slumped over and still.
“Are you afraid of dying?” I ask. She nods. “Are you afraid of being alone? I ask again because she used to articulate this fear often. She continues to nod, her eyes half closed and unfocused.
“Mom?” I say, trying to get her attention, getting on my knees to try to look into her eyes.
“Mom,” I continue, you don’t have to be afraid of being alone. If you think you’re dying, remember that everyone in your family is up in heaven waiting for you. Your mother and father [she’s begun calling for her momma], your husband, all of your brothers and sisters. They are all there waiting for you. You won’t be alone.”
Of course, I don’t believe any of that, but she does, and that’s what’s important. In younger years, I would argue vehemently with my parents about my unbelief. That was then.
I see her take a breath.
“And if you keep living, you are not alone here either,” I add. ” I am here. Your son is here. You granddaughter and her family are coming to visit you this weekend. We all love you and you are not alone.”
She slumps in her chair.
“Do you want to go back to sleep,” I ask.
She nods.
She sleeps.
My brother refuses to believe that it’s possible for a body that is more than 91 years old to just wear down, wear out. He wants her to get her blood tested, get a CAT scan of her head, which she is often rubbing on the right side. He wants something else to be wrong. Something than can be fixed.
I am ready to let her go. I think she is ready to let go. He does not want to let her go.
She cries.

3 thoughts on “is it the time yet?

  1. First — regardless of familial ties — I am deeply moved by this post. Moved by your tenderness toward her in spite of any past differences. Moved by your capacity to relate to her and converse with and comfort her in a way that will be meaningful to her regardless of its meaningLESSNESS to you (as in the BBC post). It speaks volumes of you as a caregiver and a daughter.

    Second — I wish your co-caregiver could see that the greatest gift he could give his mother right now is permission to let go. To have peace. To say as you have, “If you want to stay, we are here for you, but if you want to go, that’s okay too”.

    My hope, frankly, is that your energy and your words/thoughts/communications are stronger for her so that if she does need to let go, she knows it’s okay.

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