Sunday, August 3, 2008

My Last Day in Italy...My Goodbye to Mom

The day I arrived in Italy three weeks ago, I cried when I saw my mom in bed. She seemed paralyzed and in a coma. Over the next few days, I saw her seemingly improve and had high hopes that she would return almost to her old self. Unfortunately, it was short-lived. Friday, when I left her, her condition was even worse, her eyes fixed on the ceiling. She no longer talks and barely moves anymore, except for the repetitive up and down movement of her head and her shoulders. Who knows if there is still some chance but I’ve lost my optimism.

Friday when I was with her I cried as I have not since I was a child. All I could think of was that this was the last time I would see my mother alive. The words of the doctor, telling us that my mom’s life would last only weeks or perhaps a few months more rang in my head. I tried to get an answer from my mom, calling out to her constantly, stroking her face and her hair, rubbing her neck, trying to get any kind of response at all. Nothing. My mother is gone. Her body remains but only a vestige of her mind is left. She is lost in some old memories that she can no longer even express out loud anymore. She doesn’t appear to be in pain - for that I'm thankful. She doesn’t appear to be in any state.

I gave my mother my goodbyes with kisses and hugs and strokes and tears. I thanked her for all that she had done to make me who I am. I hope she was able to feel the love that I have for her, the love that she instilled in me.

During times like these, life can appear so cruel. What was the point of gathering 73 years of memories only to lose them so quickly? I think I know the answer – her life is imprinted on those whom she touched in her life, most especially my sister and me. Having done so, all of us whom she touched continue to pass on a part of her to everyone whom we help and love in our lives. The butterfly effect will continue for as long as humanity exists on the planet, just like the passing of her genes to her children and her grandchildren and so on. Her legacy and her progeny will continue.

Her life, like that of a butterfly, like that of all of us, has been short. We pity the mayfly who is born, breeds and dies in the span of 24 hours. How much different are we? To the mayfly, a day may feel like a lifetime. Sometimes 73 years can seem like a day.

I feel sorrow and envy for my sister, who will continue to see my mom every day for as long as she lives. I'm sorry because every time we see her in this state, it hurts so much. I'm envious because she gets to touch our mother and talk to our mother and hug and kiss our mother for more time than I do.

I am thankful that I was able to go to Italy and say my goodbyes. I'm afraid when next I go, it will be for an even sadder reason, one that will take place in a cemetery. I do not look forward to that day.


Anonymous said...

Joe, The sun shines in a bright blue sky out here, and as long as i live now, i will see your mom smiling and hear the words of a son who loves her.

That is what the butterfly has planted in me and I am humbled to tears.

Your friend,

Anonymous said...

my thoughts and prayers are with you. I'm am so grateful for you to have had the opportunity to spend those three weeks with her. Please take care of yourself. Prayers to you and your family

Sally la peste said...

Joe, please feel no envy. This is the hardest thing I've ever done! Watching our mother always hoping she says something. Anything would be fine now, instead of seeing her staring at me without saying a word, knowing it won't probably last long. It causes pain, suffering. There are days that I don't even feel like going there, cause I know what the result of that visit means. You're with us always even before your visit.Love Sally

Anonymous said...

My Dear Joe - As I have stated earlier I cannot even imagine what you are going through. What I do know is what a wonderful person your Mother is because of what a kind and generous person you are. I am blessed that we met in the Colorado Springs airport and have forged a friendship that will last a lifetime. You are the person you are because as we say in the south "your Mama rasied you right". I have to beleive your Mom knew you were there and felt your love and presence. I know nothing I can say will bring comfort right now, but the memories you have are everlasting and I know will always make you smile. You and your family will remain in my thoughts and prayers.