Every goodbye holds more pain. Every goodbye looms over my words, wondering whether it could be the last one. This past weekend, I had to do it again. It is heartbreaking every time.
The January stroke which stole my mother's independence also stole her sweet light-filled apartment, her mobility, her strength, her vitality, and some of her mental clarity.
My smart, ebullient, vital, thoughtful, and very active mother did not want to end her life story like this. People want to end their stories on their own terms. Mom did not get a choice. She would tell you, if she could, that she would want to die sitting at a bridge table with her 3 girlfriends, having just bid one-no-trump.
And yet, what remains is undimmed and canyon-deep love for her children and grandchildren. When she may not be able to express her preferences for dinner or what to wear, she can still be profoundly articulate about her love.
"I love you more than that."
"Nobody will ever love you as much as I do."
"You are in my heart everyday."
I soak it in. My brothers soak it in. The 3 of us have been loved intensely our whole lives. Maybe mother-love is the one enduring constant in life.
When I am about to leave her room, we can't hug and kiss enough. And we talk about how much we love each other. And we try to say goodbye. And I die a little tiny bit every time because I don't know how I am going to live without my mom. When the time comes, I really don't know how I can do that.
Mom's rich rich life was diminished because of this stroke. But she still has love. Lots of love. Love given to her, and love given by her.
Of all she has lost, I know that if she had the choice of losses, she would have chosen everything but the ability to love her family.