Dealing with my mother's illness these last few years has been like going out on ice that seems to be frozen solid, but in reality is fragile enough to break through at any moment, plunging you into the murky, dark waters below. As I move through daily life, suddenly something will trigger the grief that lies just below the surface. Suddenly I am weeping uncontrollably, grieving for what was, unable to explain what caused this to happen.
It is a strange feeling, grieving for my parents while they are still alive. What they were in the past is gradually fading away as their memory lapses more and more and her ability to communicate becomes more difficult. The roles have reversed from what they once were, I trim their fingernails, give Dad a haircut, put in the dvd of the church service for them to watch, water the plants, gather the mail to go through...all the things they once did for me when I was growing up.
Somehow I thought I would be ready for what would come. I recognize the passage of time, that I am aging, my parents are aging. I know that death is part of life, but it never seems to be that simple. They are dying slowly as they live and I was not prepared for that. Will it make it easier when death finally comes? I'm not sure. But I know that it will be a sweet release for my mother from this crippled physical body and a mind that has slipped away from her. I pray that she does not realize in full what has happened to her, that it is a hazy mystery that seems intangible to hold on to, and that she slowly slips away to enjoy the rewards of heaven by the grace of our Lord.
Then the grief will be sharp and painful not this lingering sorrow that lies just under the skin. I will deal with it, go through its stages and accept what is. This time out of time cannot be categorized or sorted out until that happens.
What I can do with this time though is to live. To notice little things, to appreciate being able to go off to work, to drive a car, to shop at the grocery store, to attend church, spend time with friends, to cherish each day of grace that has been given to me.