We Keep Her Here

I am witnessing what is happening in my mother’s body.

Feet swollen, that step so carefully, on broken glass.  As gravity pulls at her back, her head.  Come to me, fall into me, it welcomes.  Sleep pulls her under, into the quiet of dark waters where nothing hurts, where she is left alone.  To dream, to remember, to float free.

I am witnessing my mother’s journey to the other world.  In slow motion.  Under water, in clouds of mist.  She is moving away from us, as we try valiantly, desperately, to keep her here.

Eat mama, drink mama, sleep mama, wash mama, take this pill, that pill, please, mama.

We push her, prod her, poke her, pull her up and sit her down, a puppet on a string. As she cries out in like a wounded animal, “It hurts, it hurts, it hurts.”

She takes another step, leaves us further behind.  Where it doesn’t hurt, where she is left in peace.  I think she humors us now, stays because we won’t let her go.  Not the other way around.

I am witnessing my mothers’ journey to the other world.  The one I can’t follow her to, not until it is my turn.  It is we, who keep her here.

I’ve been told dementia stifles the appetite.  But perhaps that is how it is supposed to be, as bit by bit, the worldly impulses slow and ultimately stop, letting us slip into sleep.  Nature, in her infinite wisdom has given us the path to walk.

But we can’t do that, won’t do that.  We must fight it.  And so, we ask you to eat, encourage you to eat, nudge you to eat, beg and plead for you to eat.  Please eat, so you’ll stay a little longer, please stay a little longer. 

So, at what point do we cut the string that keeps you tethered here, to this earthly plain?  At what point do we let go and leave you to walk that path without us?  

She has a smile, it’s like a six year-old with a secret, that smile.  She looks at us and maybe she knows and maybe she doesn’t.  It is a secret she cannot share.

At some point, maybe not now, maybe not yet, she will hold our hands one last time, and shake her head, no.  No more, there is no more time.

The string that holds her here will fall away and she will step out onto that road, alone, unencumbered, perhaps lighter on her feet.  

It doesn’t hurt anymore.

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