Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The First Death

"With my mother's death all settled happiness, all that was tranquil and reliable, disappeared from my life. There was to be much fun, many pleasures, many stabs of joy; but no more of the old security. It was sea and islands now, the great continent had sunk like Atlantis." C.S. Lewis

I awaken too early once again and feel the emptiness of a world without my mother. These are the difficult hours. I can fill my day with noisey children and strenuous exercise and I can overload my senses with the beauty of this blue/green planet. I push and shove all kinds of diversions into my daylight hours and I can fall asleep exhausted by the overload with muscles still aching from the swim and the tumble of grandchildren. But I cannot escape the early dawn solitude.

Up until now this had been one of my favorite times. I awaken to the sounds of birds and crickets. We live at the end of a road surrounded by property owned by the Franciscan Sisters. There are farmlands to the north of us and the motherhouse and its extensive prairie fields to the east. Here we have quiet and natural sounds and no traffic rumble interrupting our thoughts.

It has always been a sweet and gentle way to enter my conscious world again. I can contemplate the day ahead of me. What chores await me, will there be free time and how should I fill that precious time slot - a walk by the river, a new book to begin, perhaps a pie to be baked.

But now when my eyes open I feel a heaviness settling around me, a buzz in my head that threatens to get louder, a constriction in my chest as if I never will take a full breath again.

"After the first death, there is no other," wrote Dylan Thomas. I am not quite sure what this means, but I think my mother's passing is that first death for me. I am blessed to have had my parents alive and close to me all these years. All my friends lost their parents decades ago and I have always recognized my great fortune in this area of my life. I have had few significant deaths considering I am nearing the 60 year marker and those deaths were long ago. I think Thomas is saying when that first important loss occurs it alters us and marks us. It scoops us up and lays us on the wayside on the journey of life. I feel I have been halted for an undetermined amount of time. I am not growing and learning at this junction of my existence. I am alone and cold sitting outside the window looking in at the fireside.

Larkin Warren writes on grief, "Welcome, fellow human, to a different country than the one you woke up to this morning." And he is right. The air feels different, I am hearing and seeing with muted senses, I place food in my mouth and tell myself to chew.
I know I am going to be all right. I know the waves won't rush over me and pull me under. I know all that. I just don't know the logistics and framework of how this process will happen for me.

Okay, so a couple of hours later while waiting for my charges to show I decide to play some music and I blindly push the button on my Sony machine and what comes to my ears is the beautiful strains of Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child. Hee hee hoo hoo, some cosmic presence is playing my strings today and I laugh. It can be good.

1 comment:

tainterturtles said...

I enjoyed reading your description of "first death." Very nice.