Friday, May 21, 2010

Reflections amidst borrowed time




It is hard to believe that my mother was diagnosed with cancer almost a year ago.  When she was given four to six months to live last June, we all were shocked, and we tried to imagine the days ahead.  It was impossible, though. This was all unknown territory.

And now we are in the days of borrowed time.  The reality of what we are experiencing has made us remember that each day, each breath, is a gift.  And, yes, that is a cliche, but it is also true.  Breathing is really, really dandy.  Mom is feeling well, she is pink-cheeked and spunky and taking good care of herself.  She does as much as she can for herself and has an attitude of acceptance and humor that inspires me.

For myself, it is hard not to live on the edge of my seat, hard not to anticipate the next crisis, all.the.time.  Living in the moment, it turns out, is not one of my skill sets.  I try and fail and try again, but fortunately I am getting the chance to practice over and over and over again, so maybe I am learning.  I am tired, but I am making the time to rest.  I am learning to run this particular race with endurance.

Just yesterday Mom was having an outpatient procedure in the hospital, and we had yet another bedside chat.  We've done this a lot, talking about you-just-never-know-what as we wait for doctors or nurses or lab techs to work their magic.  In the last year we've discussed our children, recipes, fashion accessories, favorite books, family stories and memories, and the mysteries of living with dying.  We have both fallen asleep on each other, we've laughed until we've cried, we have held hands, we have gently distracted each other from the worry of the moment.  We are a well-oiled machine, and I love that.

Fortunately, my life is also filled with the exciting adventures of raising children.  We have another high school graduation to celebrate in June, and very special guests coming to town for the party.  But before that can happen we will welcome home our oldest from her victorious first year of college, and before that:  a trip.  I don't like leaving for days on end, let alone an entire week, but that is what I am doing next week.  I am headed to the southern part of the state for a debate tournament, and Mom will be here.  Her words of wisdom to me when I worried aloud that something could happen while I am gone:

"Well, honey, then something will happen.  Oh.  Well."

She's right.  I am going, and it will be grand.

And I will keep practicing my "in the moment skills" as I push away from the edge of my seat.

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