Grief Sandwich

subway photoI have been watching “The Perfect Storm” today. Not the finest cinema, but I love to watch water and especially waves on film. I do not swim, and have not often been in the ocean, but looking at it makes me feel things that I know are eternal. Colder than cold, bigger than the biggest things. I am crying as the fishermen die. I imagine a next scene where they wake up in another room as if nothing has happened. They are still wearing their fishing gear, perhaps, but any cuts, injuries or illnesses have been healed. They joyously compare notes on dying and reunite with countless loved ones. Honestly, I think it is like that.

My mother is dying. We all are at some time, but she is ninety and has advanced dementia. Her death is approaching. She was calling me at times until a couple of weeks ago, without knowing who I was. After picking up I would hear her usual cheerful “hello”, and I experienced the sound of that as precious testimony to her soul still being here. Somehow, and I do not completely understand this, I have felt as if I am talking to a very young baby who has just been born into my family. Her voice sounds prescient and her existence seems miraculous. We are all evidence of a magnificent force, but we do not remember this most of the time. Also, I cannot understand why my mother is experiencing this illness. It hurts me. I do not know why anyone suffers in this way, confused and alone and afraid. It is not fair.

It is different for the sick and elderly to die than for a young child to die. Susanna was perfect, healthy and joyous. No one knew that she was going to leave so suddenly. When an old person has been suffering and lost her independence, we say death is a blessing. When a family loses a child, we say this is a tragedy and nothing is ever the same. These are big truths.

This summer I am feeling like I am the center of a grief sandwich. My mother, my daughter, me in the middle. I am going to survive both, and I need to live. I dare say that there have been some moments during the last couple of years, as my mother began to undeniably slip away, that I felt jealous of her for being able to leave soon. I long so much to reach out to my little girl, touch her and hold her and speak to her. My mother, also, has a baby on the other side, a little boy, my older brother. I imagine that after losing him she may have envied the dying as well. I am so happy for her that she will see him. I know with everything I have that there is reunion.

One time I had a dream that I was sitting at a table talking to some people who had crossed over. I do not remember who they were. One of them said, “I love being on this side, because it is much easier to help people from over here”. I do not know if everyone becomes so selfless, maybe we need to choose that like we do when we are here alive. My mother was a nurse for many decades in her community. She worked often on weekends to care for those who were old and sick and difficult to be around. (My older sister does the same thing. As did many of my ancestors, according to a spirit medium I spoke to, but that story is for another day). This is her turn now, to be cared for. But I do not think any acts of love and kindness are lost, they somehow get absorbed into the ethers with all the other love. And eventually love comes back. Peace.




By trishfreer

Mother, writer, artist and teacher grappling with grief and loss.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: