Tangled Stories: Losing a Parent

6 years ago

My husband is a very private man. I am not. His 93-year-old mother went into the hospital a week ago Monday, and she is gravely ill.

As my father passed away just this past March, at a similar advanced age, of a very similar condition, after spending much time at the same hospital, seeing some of the same doctors, you can see I might be having a lot of feelings right now.

I wrote about this yesterday, here.

My feelings are mine, but the situation at hand is my husband's. And I am trying to walk that fine line between respecting his privacy, honoring his need to own the story of his mother, while still finding a way to talk about what I am going through right now. Which is completely tangled up in the story of my husband and his mother. His story.

So there is much I cannot say. But I will say this: there is nothing easy about this time.

We wait. A lot.

For doctors. For nurses. For phone calls.

And there is so much that needs attending to in our lives. We carry bags and briefcases full of important-stuff-that-must-be-done. And they sit unopened. Waiting time cannot be filled.

It feels empty, but it is not empty. It is full. Of waiting.

The mind jumps around, cannot concentrate for long; it alights on memory's branches, leaps off again. We flit between past, present, and future, settling nowhere. We stare into space.

When there is so much feeling, sometimes there is its absence, too. The lid so tightly clamped onto the kettle, furious boiling contained. For now.

I hold my husband's hand. I hug him tight. I want him to know he is not alone in this. But of course he is, too.

I think a lot about my father, and remember again how it felt to watch him slip away, how there was that point when he was really no longer my father. At all.

But then there would be a moment, and I would hold onto that one, a firefly cupped in my hands, winking its delicate yellow glowy spark into the darkness, until the next.

There kept being moments.

Until there weren't.

We wait.

(Note: This post was originally written in late September. My mother-in-law passed on shortly afterward.)

Varda is the Squashed Mom from The Squashed Bologna: a slice of life in the sandwich generation.

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