Thursday, March 29, 2012

here and there

I slept a deep, deep sleep on a wide and flat, business class seat on the plane. I missed breakfast and barely woke up in time for the landing-- the stewardess had to shake me.

Being pushed in a wheelchair, I came into view in the receiving area of Ben Gurion airport, and got pummeled by my awesome children, with their fresh-air faces. We did huge, twosome, threesome bear hugs. My loving husband patiently waited his turn.

We went for pizza at the Kosher Pizza-Hut in the airport.
Then, home in the rental car (our car in is the shop, unfortunately).

Presents were given out in a flurry of excitement as I opened the all-important *box*. I was inordinately worried about other things in this box; I didn't want anyone ferreting around and looking for things except me. I had packed all sorts of pictures from my youth, and letters from my mother. There were mementos, wrapped in paper. I was protecting them as if they were ancient relics (which, actually, they were).

That was the scene here, in my home, in Israel, last night.

The scene in my heart, however, was still back 6,000 miles away where I had just been. My heart was with my father and mother.

I had actually looked into changing my flight, but there were no flights to be had; Passover was very close, high tourism season coming with it.

(back in another time, another place)

"1-2-3 lift" (actually my typo before that was 'life')
The bed that softly embraced my mother was straight, tipped with the head down a little (toward the floor). The adept nurses lifted her up and shifted her toward the head of the bed a little. Repositioning is a big part of a nurse's job.

When I witnessed that scene in my mother's room, I was brought back almost five years when I experienced the same thing. But since I was awake at the time, I remember it. I was awake, but unable to shift myself around in bed.

My body's memory flooded me. I felt that feeling again; the feeling of being moved upward in a bed that was slanted with the head down. It felt very "tippy" and I was afraid I'd slide off. Then there was the feeling of being cradled in the sheet when they lifted me to move; the feeling of wanting to do it myself, not to rely on others notions of where I should be in my bed. 

Afterward, though, I was happy that they moved me up; I didn't realize how much I had been sliding down in the bed. I was more comfortable. Knowing that, I am not alarmed by witnessing this scene with my mom. It's a good example of memories from the past helping to integrate the present.

Another tangible memory I experienced at my mother's bedside was about the "ensure"- type of liquid food diet they were putting into her feeding tube. When I smell that stuff, I get nauseous, I almost gag. I remembered the feeling and taste of having the feeding tube removed through my nose. Sensory memories; taste, feeling, smelling all come together such that smelling the liquid food given to me while I was sick makes me sick to the stomach today.

That is the food that is keeping my mother alive, though, Baruch Hashem.

When I said my goodbyes to her, she was asleep, unfortunately. She does have her waking moments. Her blue doe-eyes open, her closed mouth smile... it's not really her, but we are so attentive anyway when it happens. She is a very strong, outspoken woman. This docile form of her is beautiful, for sure, but I don't feel her essence when I see it.

Nonetheless, I *wanted* her awake when I was saying goodbye. Not goodbye forever, Gd forbid, just goodbye because my U.S. visit had ended.

So, she was asleep.
"Mommy? Can you hear me?"
-no response-
"Mom? Can you hear me?" (said a little louder)
-faint, but sure, nod of her head-
"can you open your eyes for me?"
-no response-
"Please wake up"
-no response-
"please, please wake up"
OK, so I'm going to talk anyway, OK?"
-another faint nod-

(private one-way conversation between daughter and ailing mother)

"Mom? Wake up"
"Mom? WAKE UP".
"You must wake up. I know you can hear me, even though you cannot respond."
"You have to live, Mom. (Crying getting more urgent...)
"You have to fight... and you have to wake up... and you have to come back to us."
"can you HEAR me, mommy?"
-no response, but I *know* that she heard me.-


  1. Oh sweetheart - what a return. It shows how life can be amazingly happy and sad at the same time... The essence of Being... Keep strong!

  2. shabbat shalom and wishing you all the best. rochel.