the Traveling Writing Room
The Luckiest Woman in the World
Words and emotions float around me like storm clouds. Fear. Cancer. Pain. Death. But every once in a while, there comes a break in the clouds
and a bright memory so beautiful overpowers and takes my breath away. Such is this limbo period in which one waits for the last day of a loved one’s life to come.
It is so odd that at any given moment I can actually almost forget what’s ahead and the conversation steers toward something as normal and mundane as discussing
a recipe for rhubarb crumble one of us saw last month in Better Homes and Gardens. The next moment, Mom is showing me the dress in
her closet she wants to be buried in.
In the last couple of weeks, I have wanted to climb out of my life, peel it away like an itching skin and jump into the ocean, naked, free, light and alone. Just me. No responsibilities. No dividing pills up in a weekly pill dispenser Mom might not live to take. No listening all through the night if she’s breathing or not. No more weight of an anvil sitting on my chest branding me with a sorrow from which I may never recover.
YET . . .
I lay here in the dark on the couch, only a few feet from Mom’s bed and know that I am the luckiest woman in the world. I have never lived a day of my 68-years a motherless child. She brought me into this world. Gave me my wings. Saw me mother my own. And, even now watches me grandmother her great-grandchildren. How many of us get to cram that much living into a relationship with our moms? “Oh, dear, God, thank you! But, forgive me. I want even more.”
Just a little over a week ago, Mom and I were 750 miles from here in my home in Wisconsin. (We’re in Memphis now.) She wanted to see my sons and their families one more time. I was nervous she was too ill to travel, but she was determined. She got four days of being doted on by the Grands and Great-grands. We did nothing special but drift from one porch swing to the other. Conversations were had in quiet clusters throughout the house. A two-year-old entertained with his antics. A couple of 15-year-olds charmed us with their blossoming almost- adult-mannerisms. Adult grandsons made her laugh. Granddaughters-in-law spoke softly and hugged tightly. And, I got glimpses of Mom wearing her version of the Monalisa smile as the activity around her affirm that she mattered, that her life was not for naught. Her legacy of a 70-year marriage, two children, five grandchildren, and thirteen great-grandchildren was enough. More than enough.
It’s past midnight. All is quiet. Mom’s breathing is steady for now. I hear the storm clouds rumble above. But no matter. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For HE is with me. HIS rod and staff, they comfort me.
I am the luckiest woman in the world.