DEEP CHALLENGE IN TIMES OF JOY
Fall is an enjoyable season in New York. As my eyes take in the colors, I feel comforted and happy: November encompasses my birthday, and my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.
On a recent weekend, I found myself engaged in a seemingly routine, even mundane task. My clothes were washing and drying as I ‘puttered’ (my favorite expression for doing just what I please, when I please) in my home. This has occurred countless times, but on this particular day I consciously understood my mood: there was joy from the nurturance and self love I felt. This is especially wonderful because I have co-created this! (See blogs Aug. 27, Sept. 2, Sept. 9)) Life is good, and it holds promise for the direction I have taken, personally and professionally!
Since April of this year, a challenge has developed in my family. It has continued to unfold before our eyes: our eighty-eight-year-old
mother has been rapidly declining in health. Subtly, it began with her mild confusion in thinking a granddaughter was a niece. We noticed unsteady gait and additional fears and sadness. We accompanied her to physician appointments, for tests to rule out definitive diagnoses, so we could guide her to the best possible health and outcome…Currently she is more likely to be in bed than not. Her appetite comes and goes, as does her ability to be talkative and lucid. We began with daytime care (an aide), and now we have twenty-four-hour assistance…At present, she’s in hospice in her home where she has lived with our father for forty-five years.
We are processing our grief in the midst of our abundance, enjoying our time with the matriarch of our family. We are slowly saying ‘adieu.’ We realize we’ve been so lucky to have our parents for all these years. Yet, leave-taking is terribly difficult –
Mom will neither be with us, day-to-day, nor present for our family gatherings (which are frequent in our Italian-Russian-Romanian family). It is typical for us to make decisions over a home-cooked meal, where we share our varied opinions on the matter at hand. When we are too busy to cook, we are known to thrash out ideas over Chinese take-out, as we barter over the spare-ribs. (I’m not joking. Dad loves these.)
Literally, we break bread, and share ideas; brainstorm despite our differences, with a huge sense of loyalty steeped in a “whole lot of lovin.’” We may not agree, but we strive for consensus (We are four children + our parents.)
From our sibling perspective, our mother whom we have known all our lives, will not-too-much longer be part of this family time. This is our reality: a deep challenge in times of joy and abundance. How will we interpret this emotional pain? The figure-ground, metaphor comes to mind. The photographer decides to create the focus, say, on the foreground with the background out of focus. For imaginative purposes, the artist then changes the focus to highlight the backdrop, and so the clarity shifts to the milieu, as the foreground becomes blurred. This can repeat.
It is our choice to emphasize the view of our lens, in this case, our eyes and heart. In the focus is our mother’s life in which she has cared for us all. The background is the afterlife into which she will pass when she leaves us. We can shift our focus at will. Make no mistake that this transition is fraught with deep loss and challenge. But also know that the Marsanico clan is connected to the collective ‘us’ where we gain strength and support. A single candle has a fragile flicker, but when we share the light, it becomes a giant force of nature.
Let’s resonate with this because we all have, or will have to face this goodbye……
Until next week…