HospiceLand - Christmas 2008
Christmas, mom's last I would guess, as she does as well. It is at these times when we are most tested and where our character is built. Do you give in to the despair or do you rise above it? And oddly the easiest path is one of optimism and hope while the road of despair only leads to more of the same and if unchecked will pull you down to absolute ruin.
Our Christmas went much like Thanksgiving. We probably took a few too many gifts from Spencer’s Gift Shop and ended up with things like the Jesus pencil and reindeer that poop. Along with a brown coffee mug that says “Coffee Makes Me Poop”. That might have been a little off from “traditional”. My mom overdid and rested and overdid and rested. Her back issues are behind her but every time you see her you can see she is a tad weaker.
Toni describes what she is doing as being “like a feather”. She sways back and forth like a pendulum as she floats downward. She’s up and overdoes it and then down tics for a day. Then she rebounds and feels better to overdo it another day. My mom has let go of most of the things she just can’t do. It’s hard but it’s good to let those kinds of holds go.
She worried a lot about the kitchen light because it is so hard to change. When it went out she was very agitated until I replaced it. Then she was all about when it would go out again. One day, during the days that lead up to Christmas, she said,
“Y’know, I don’t need to worry about that stupid light. I can’t possibly change it and I’m not in the kitchen enough to care if it is out. I don’t give a damn about that stupid light.”
It was a magic moment and as more of those kind of worries started to fall away, my mom improved some. She held onto so many things like that. Demon thoughts that would torture her as she lay helpless, unable to help or at risk of ruining tomorrow if she overdid today. She had to pick and choose what she did and worrying about meaningless stuff like light bulb changing or if her dining room table was cluttered became things she couldn't afford to worry about anymore. As she did that, she saw the folly in so many of those things that formerly bothered her. She started to let us help on the meaningless tasks and could focus on the imprortant stuff. Like watching soaps or the Gameshow channel with her family. Talking to us. She was still our Queen.
The gift of Christmas in 2008 was my mom giving up on that stupid light bulb in the kitchen and allowing a light bulb of her own to go off in her head. As she did that, she relaxed and the burden on her heart was lessened. Perhaps, that Christmas, the one I thought she would never see back in October 2008 was one of the reasons she improved so much. Her feather gusted up a few hundred feet over the holidays. She looked forward to that Christmas as well as the New Year. I think that gift of Christmas, the letting go, allowed my mom to live on for many more months in a much more meaningful way. It was a gift for all of us.
This Christmas, we will be without our mother. There will be tears. But hopefully, those who loved her, have also learned from her. To drop the meaningless and to focus on what is really important, each other - our family, our friends, our neighbors. My mother was always the Spirit of Christmas present. She's passed that baton on to us now. We need not be sad this Christmas, that isn't what she would want. We need to embrace the spirit, her spirit and keep it alive. That is what I plan to do this Christmas. There will be tears, sure, but there should be and there will be more laughter than tears. That is the lesson I learned last Christmas from my mother. I will honor that this Christmas and beyond this season as well.
That is what she would want.