Jean Marie Gunner

Jean Marie Gunner
We are all basically good.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hold Me Up

"Sleep we sleep
for we may dream
while we may
dream we dream
for we may wake
one more day
one more day"

(Neil Diamond, "Lonely Looking Sky"
Jonathan Livingston Seagull)

I walked back into my house, a disheveled kitchen, my mind pointed on my heart, on my great big sad heart.  I just escorted my mom down my few kitchen stairs to the car, gently holding her, supporting her balance, as bone grinded on bone of her left knee.  She is so frail, or more accurately her body is frail, skin and bones, grating, weakened bones.  How our bodies deceive us, some of us become like stick figures with muscle and sinew and bone growing smaller, weaker, until there is nothing but the spirit holding onto space, just empty space. 

As I helped her descend those few steps that my sons and I take for granted every day, it took all her concentration and muscle and tension full well knowing what a fall would mean for her.
My father, too, has a lot riding on him.  He is my mom’s primary caregiver and it is tiring and unnerving to be sure.  But how we humans can be so impatient, even mean spirited at times when others' suffering is impacting us, blaming others for our own suffering.  It must be extremely difficult for my dad to watch his wife dissolve before his eyes.  How easy it is then for those in pain to lash out in return, I witnessed this exchange of anger, indifference and helplessness between my parents. Watching on feeling quite helpless myself, but trusting in my heart to lead me. 

All I could do was stand by and offer my arm and try to remain open with love to both of parents at this difficult time in their lives.  I gingerly assisted her into her seat in their car and came back into the kitchen full of dirty dishes and broke down, wishing only for a partner to collapse into, for a chest and strong arms to hold me up, someone brave enough to support my sadness and rawness.  The only one to hold me was me, my strength, my gentleness, and the kitchen wall as I laid my forehead to the wood and let it all weep out of me.  That was all that I had in that moment.


Watching my mom suffer and witnessing her ego crushed and her will snapping takes a gentle courage and willingness to accept the inevitable impermanence of all our lives here.  Her will to live collapsing under the weight of her disease, her struggle to remain fixed on this earth.  Why do we want to remain fixed here when heaven is awaiting us, why do we struggle against the inevitable?  Why don’t we want to give up the suffering?  I have to see and feel my world without my mother in it.  This is the most compassionate thing for me to practice right now; this is a way of being kind to me and to my mom.

My boys heard me crying and came down to see; they came down to their mother, Mama Jean.  And, they wanted to know the why of my tears.  I couldn’t quite tell them in words and they came to me to hold me up, to hold me up with their hearts so brave and true.  Kailen and Aidan in their wisdom always know what to say to me. Kailen in that moment looked me straight in the eyes as Aidan stood by my side, “Mom it is okay, this is just how it is now.  You have them right now so don’t waste it.”  He gently spoke these words with such confident knowing; I took rest there, in the expression that all life is lived in the present.  The fear of losing is so strong; it is tempting to reside there, in the place of fear and miss all the moments of living that are available to us in the present. 

The three of us, our little family in that moment, moved to the living room, to sit.  Tears magically turned to laughter and I felt that the full range of human experience, being born, living and dying, is what holds me up, is what holds all of us up.


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