It is 6:30 am. From my deck, I am watching the most glorious sunrise over the San Francisco Bay. Every possible color is splashed across the morning sky, from deep magenta to mauve, to violet, to luminous pink. The clouds are feathered like a fan and the sky is of the deepest, most sensuous blue.
I breathe it in, all of it, and I think about my mother.
Has she ever gasped at a sunrise like this one? Has she ever been moved to tears by the sheer, mesmerizing, wordless beauty? Has she ever been touched by the Unfathomable? Or longed to be touched by it? She must have. Everyone has.
But something happened to her and she shut it off. “Why do people cry at weddings?” she had asked me once… I was 18. I couldn't think where to even begin answering that question.
In her hospital bed, on 7grams of morphine per hour she is unconscious but still here. “Comfort care” they call it. And it is. There is nothing more the doctors can do for her. She is finally allowed to go in peace.
Morphine, the magic drip. Finally, mercy.
There is no more pain and no more suffering, and in front of my eyes a miracle of healing is unfolding. Not the physical healing, but the healing of the soul. My mother’s final gift to us and to herself.
All fight is gone, anger – vanished, resistance melted, bitterness forgotten. And in their place, what has been there all along, just hiding behind the wall of pain. Love. Love of the purest, most innocent nature. I have never experienced my mother this way.
Gentle as a child, she is so soft, so receptive. And it is suddenly so easy to love her. Sweetness is poring out of her and we all bask in it. She cannot talk except for a word or two, but words are not needed.
And it strikes me: my mother is dying from starvation. She has been starving for love all of her life. She had wanted love more than anything, but her relationship with love had been so tortured, so distorted.
She didn’t trust it. Wanting to get it, she did not know how to give it, nor how to receive what was being given. She had lived a hard life, most of it in the former Soviet Union. She had lived through the siege of Leningrad during World War II, she had had 5 marriages – none of them happy.
We have never been close. And yet she was a formidable force throughout my youth.
She had the will of steel and that will is still there. Keeping her alive in spite of the failed kidneys. She is not ready yet, not done. She is finally receiving love. Receiving it without asking, receiving it the only way you can receive it, as a gift.
And so she hangs on. Until she has had enough.
We are all around her, loving her, kissing her, talking to her, singing her songs, stroking her hair. And she will be darned if she leaves all this too soon.
And this is what I will remember. These last days of total sweetness. These final poignant defining moments of love. This is what I will carry in my heart. It is the only thing that matters.
Thank you, mamachka.