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Afternoon shadows, Monument Valley

Friday, December 5, 2014

It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)



It was strange when she called the other day.

There was something new and different in my mother's voice. Perhaps something bordering on peace and resolution.

"Do you love me, Bobby?"

Of course I love you ma.

"Good, you know how much I love your wife?"

Yes, mom.

"Expect anything."

It was such a strange, cryptic, apocryphal statement. My wife and I looked at each other across the car seat, both detecting the same faint, hair standing on the neck, chill. There was something different. I think we were in Oregon somewhere at this point, or close to it.

We signed off and both sort of processed the call. I had done something really stupid that I don't need to mention and was wondering at the time if she was giving me some sort of a psychic warning.

We got home from our trip the other day and, well, I was sitting on the can when I reached down and grabbed a book Leslie had pulled out of the library by the Dalai Lama. I blind opened it to a page that spoke to me at the moment and said open here and it was a page about meditating on the love of your mother, the person who you depended on the most and so totally entering this world. I thought a lot about mine at that point, the second message. Had I been there for her? Was I attuned enough to what she was experiencing day to day, in a hospital in Maryland, on dialysis? A victim of the dreaded NIH superbug.

She called me yesterday. She is finished. She has had enough. The fistula isn't working and she doesn't want another. No more dialysis. She gave it a two year run. Now she is saying goodbye. She sounds at peace with her decision. So are we.

I am going to fly out and say goodbye. It was said she has a couple weeks tops. Maybe less. But hey, it might take a silver bullet, if anyone can beat the odds...

My mother is one of a kind. A brilliant skill set and a resumé like you have never seen. A crazy factor that tempered her offspring like steel so as not to get caught in her wake. She lives on her own terms and she is leaving the same way. I can say a lot of things about my mom, some not totally charitable, some incredibly charitable, but I can never say that she didn't love her children. We got plenty of that, in her very unique way.

I can remember almost missing the bus in the third or fourth grade and running out without kissing her one morning. First time ever. I remember thinking how different it was. I got home that afternoon and she had cried the whole day.

When I was 14, 15, and 16 I had chronic active hepatitis. I was literally starting to die. Doctors said I had less than three days to live, having started the stages of necrosis, pancreas emptying, feet itching. My mother saved my life, willed me back to life for weeks, waiting on me hand and foot, refused to let me die. I owe her a lot. Everything, really.

We all have mothers and we all will one day lose our mothers. Only this one is mine.

It is going to be a difficult week. We will see.