Friday, November 30


The first evening...after...we would find ourselves shaking our heads, again and again, as we remembered the beauty and mystery and perfection of those last moments...while we lit more candles...while we bathed and dressed the lovely vessel that was left behind...while we listened to her songs and were grateful, all over again, that her troubles had "melted like lemon drops, and high above the chimney tops is where" we'd find her now...


 Looking for a photo to place in her hands, of me and my brothers, I leafed through the album I had made for my parents thirty-some years ago...and for the first time in a very long time, was able to feel the joy and pleasure of my mom's life again, seeping through all of the rest....I was almost giddy with it...for awhile...

 ....we kept watch on Mom's moon...had pizza and plum wine, toasting Mom at every opportunity...tried to watch a movie I had recorded for her weeks before with her beloved William Holden...

...but that didn't last and soon all I longed for was the oblivion of sleep...which I was given, until the early morning, when it was time to say good-bye to Mom's moon and hello to some of our new beginnings...

There was one more good-bye, tho'....

With the frost still on the ground,  I walked out to the far edge of the kitchen garden...near the fruit trees...and leaned my arms upon the fence and my chin upon my arms and looked at the curled and frosted leaves of the apple tree, lit up by the climbing sun...then closed my eyes and listened to the little birds in the trees and hedges nearby...and the echo-y birdsong drifting over the fields to me from our woods...and waited.

When I heard the muffled closing of a car door, and the slow crunch of tires on the gravel of the front drive, I walked towards the "hay-way" drive, as we call it, hurrying, needing to be in sight of the dip in our fields where we can always wave to our departing dear ones. It's tradition! In the good old days, Mom would beep the horn of her sky-blue Beetle when she saw us waving towards the dip. On this day, there was no answering beep, of course, to the subdued raising of my hand towards the black hearse glimpsed briefly between the shaggy pines...but it was good, never-the-less.

It is tradition. And I am learning on a whole new level how much tradition and ritual and ceremonials, large and small, take us into the heart of Things...and will lead us out the other side...

Thursday, November 29

wouldn't it be loverly?

(Mom in Hawaii-her favorite place)

We had the thought, now and then in recent days...wouldn't it be lovely (scroll down to the little film at the end of the link) if Mom left on the night of the full moon? The moon that was her special thing...the moon she would watch rise over the water as she gracefully reclined on the chaise on the deck of her home overlooking the bay? The moon that she wore around her neck in gold and diamonds for as long as I can remember? 

My brothers came and went in recent days, and we thought...wouldn't it be lovely if Mom can hang on until my eldest brother, her first-born, can get here? And then we finally knew that he was coming, for only four hours on Wednesday afternoon, and we whispered in Mom's ear again "your Jamie is coming, please stay, if you want to". Then he arrived, and there were tears and caresses, but mostly the very ordinary sharing of coffee and news and questions around the kitchen table, always listening to Mom's rhythmic breath (sounding much as it had for the past few days) through the monitor that sat in the midst of the cups and saucers and other wonderful stuff of everyday life.

Ten or fifteen minutes before my brother needed to leave for the airport, still at the kitchen table, we all heard the change in Mom's breathing. In a moment we were at her bedside, holding her hands, stroking her forehead, looking at her dear face, looking at each other, wondering, waiting...

Then we noticed the light in the room and looked out the windows to see the pink glow of the setting sun amongst the dusky blue....then we realized that the full moon would be rising as the sun set...then we looked at each other again, in the wonder of this most exquisite timing...all the while listening and watching as Mom's breathing slowed and slowed...and our wonder grew...

...for we realized that Mom would go gently....there would be no confusion or fluster or hurry...that all of the Lovely things we had hoped for Mom had come true...and that in addition to all of those Kindnesses...Mom...the best of gift-givers...her gifts always thoughtful, beautifully wrapped and given with such generosity...left us in the gloaming...with the newly-risen moon to light our way through the night...and such peace in our hearts...

(taken this morning)

...and so it remains.

"All I want is a room somewhere,
Far away from the cold night air.
With one enormous chair,
Aow, wouldn't it be loverly?
Lots of choc'lates for me to eat,
Lots of coal makin' lots of 'eat.
Warm face, warm 'ands, warm feet,
Aow, wouldn't it be loverly?
Aow, so loverly sittin' abso-bloomin'-lutely still.
I would never budge 'till spring
Crept over me windowsill.
Someone's 'ead restin' on my knee,
Warm an' tender as 'e can be. 'ho takes good care of me,
Aow, wouldn't it be loverly?"

Wednesday, November 28

mom's moon

(taken this night in St. Louis by beloved family)

(...and taken this night in Williamsburg by my beloved son)

Grace Lois.

Mom... free...and went so gently.

All our hopes were granted, and then some.

Will write more soon.


breath & light

All is breath and light here.

Mom's rhythmic breathing is mostly what we've left of her, and it surrounds and fills us. And as I lay in the outdoor tub this morning, the water piping hot enveloping me and the blue sky arching over....I felt the cool breath of the November breezes lift my hair and thought of how Mom will soon be free, free as the wind. Then I watched it toss the branches of the old elm that watches over Mom's little peaked-roofed mostly filled her with wonder and gratitude over the years, tho' its Winter-revealed branches and scarred limbs inspired sadder and more difficult feelings in Mom.

We are hoping she will go as gently as the golden elm leaves that I watch drifting down to the ground in the sunlight, and be spared another Winter...

May the blessing of Light be with you...light without and light within
 ...a favorite blessing of mine, and very much what this day feels like. We are bathed in the light of the sun that is shining in our many windows and warmed by the light of all the love and thoughtfulness pouring down upon us through your comments and prayers coming through these glass pages...


Monday, November 26

sunday evening into monday evening

Another peaceful day is gifted to us, after a night of some fever and worry. All is hushed...the Satie switched out for Schumann...much as I have found myself switching out things today, like the jar of straws and glasses that will not be sipped from on the bedside table for a long-lost photo of my mom's family when they first arrived in Hawaii, everyone heaped with leis and Mom barefoot...
I didn't know before, how similar this feels to preparing the way for new life. We cannot read, we cannot spend much time in contemplation...but washing and folding and putting away fill the hours not spent soothing her brow or rubbing balm into her lips and hands or simply sitting nearby in the consoling light. 

There is little left to clean or put out of sight as I write this, but there are always more candles to make and light, more glasses of wine and water to pour, more tender messages to send and receive, more loving words to whisper in my mother's ear...
"All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well."
-Julian of Norwich