There are times in our lives when it seems that the life and death are pressed up against each other. This has been one of those months.
On March 13th, one week before Spring officially begins in Canada, we received 16 cm of snow! Today, only three days later, I can see the soil in my garden for the first time in months and our little backyard pond has thawed for the first time in weeks. This month, the world has been fluctuating between Spring and Winter on a daily basis it seems.
The same has been true in the human world. My sister, who is visiting my mother in Barbados, has shared photos of my mom on Facebook. I am shocked to see that my mom, who has been slipping away from us mentally for years now, has become a shrunken version of herself. Where once she was a tall, sturdy woman with high cheekbones and lively eyes, she now looks gaunt and emaciated. I have not had an easy relationship with my mom, but I can see death in her face, and it fills me with grief for the strong-willed and passionate woman who gave birth to me.
While I process the end of my mother’s life, I am immersed in stories of new beginnings. My son celebrated his 23rd birthday last week, which took my husband and I back in time to the day of his birth. One of my colleagues gave birth to her first child last week. My nephew has announced that his wife is pregnant. Their child will be the first one from the young generation in our family. And we will end this month with the wedding of my step-daughter on March 29th; which happens to be the day of my mother’s birth.
And so it goes, life pressed up against death; spring pushing up against winter; new souls born into this world while old souls give up material existence; joy pressed up against sorrow.
I dreamt this week that my father had died. When I went in to see his body, I suddenly thought he was alive because he looked as he had 5 years ago- strong and fit as he always was. I kept calling out to him, sure that there had been a mistake because he looked so well. In non-dream reality he has become a shrivelled replica of the man he was- tiny and grey-skinned, propelling himself around in a wheel chair (to prevent the falls that were coming more frequently) lost in the fog of advanced Alzheimer’s. The movement toward death seems to happen for many one painful inch at a time. And yet still, there are the new births, new plans, new life. . . . The two pressed so close together almost feel like a dream.
I know…In mid-life, we stand in the middle of two generations, watching the generation before us losing their physical and/or mental health, while the generation behind us steps into all of the big firsts in their lives – university, first love, marriage, and child-rearing. All the while, we hold in our minds, the clear memories of our parents as young adults and our children as babies. It as if all of those times are still living in our minds. Kim.
I wanted to leave this comment yesterday, but it can freezing when I tried. I love the line “life pressed up against death”- it says so much about any new beginning/death in life- both big and small. In so many ways, we can’t have one without the other.
It is so true and yet a hard reality to come to terms with when we see those we love stepping closer to the precipice of death.
What an incredible mix of emotions that must bring, to see the generations all lined up and, as you say, pressed together – life to death. A very apt title. Whatever our relationship is with our parents, they are still our parents, and we are going to feel it as they fade. Love to you xo
Thank you Alarna…
Amidst Life is death … I am so sorry to hear your Mom is deteriorating Kim .. My thoughts are with you and as you know my own relationship with my Mother was not a close one… but it still does not stop us from feeling..
Congratulations upon your Son’s Birthday.. I did read this post via my phone a few days ago, but was unable to come and comment… I hope the snow is easing up as Spring breaks through… Much love to you Kim, My thoughts with you xox Love Sue xox
Thank you Sue….it is still cold here… BUT I was robins for the first time yesterday and gold fish swimming in our pond which is still partially covered in ice. It is amazing how the wild life responds to the time of year even when the weather is not cooperating. Kim