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Friday, December 02, 2005

No Day But Today

This blog has taken a low priority lately. So has selling my book, cleaning the basement, and preparing for my class, which is nearing its end. My mom is getting even weaker, barely able to sit up in bed, so most of my week has been spent coordinating care for her. At least I finally got her to hire an aid for several hours a day. She also got a catheter, so she’s not hobbling to the commode by herself in the middle of the night. Both of these are a huge relief for me.

I’m also trying to cut down on my stress by avoiding committee meetings and anything that requires my mental or emotional energy. I did, though, sneak out to a movie this week: Rent, which is partly about people living with AIDS. There’s a song that recurs through the film about living in the present that I found very moving. There was another song asking how you measure a year, or a life, and the answer proposed was that we should measure our time here in love. I want to find the soundtrack to Rent so I can listen to these lyrics again, but for the time being, fragments of them are drifting through my thoughts. On the whole I felt the message was that our time on earth is so short, we should use it to love.

I got another reminder yesterday of how short our time on earth is. My mom wanted to go through her address book and tell me who to call when she dies. As I turned the faded pages and read off the names of her friends, my mother said, “No, she’s dead… Oh, he died too” to most of the entries. Stuck in between the original pages of the book were business cards and scraps of paper, with the numbers of various doctors, mechanics, and thrift stores. Although my mother will never use these numbers again, I couldn’t pull them out and recycle them, not yet. But a day is coming where I’ll have to go through my mother’s mountains of papers and decide what to keep and what to throw away. I’ll get to decide what fragments of her life are worth preserving, a daunting responsibility.

Yesterday on the radio I heard someone quote C.S. Lewis as saying that eventually our memories of a person replace the person themselves. As a writer I wonder how much I should write about my mother and whether writing about her helps me to understand her or actually distances me from the real person before me. I think of things she says—like last week when she told the nurse that she was “hanging on life a loose tooth”—and I want to preserve her wit and courage. And then I’m reminded again to just be present to her now. I think the song lyric said, "There's only day but today."


Anonymous lelabetts said...

Eileen, I'm really glad that you saw a movie and that you are taking care of yourself.

10:02 PM  

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