That Day We Always Knew Was Coming…

“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.” 
Robert Frost

I’m feeling achy and sad inside today. Late on Monday afternoon, we sent Ben’s elderly mum to hospital. She’s in her nineties and has always been stubbornly independent. And she’s been able to stay at home on her own with help which is just the way she wanted it.

But she’s been in increasing pain from a degenerated hip. Her vision is failing. She’s moved into dementia. Bit by bit we’ve watched as she’s stopped driving, stopped shopping, stopped cooking. We’ve all worried over her, and what to do for her, and what might happen when she moved into that place of no longer coping.

Now, over the past few days she’s not been eating, not drinking water, and all she’s done is cry from pain no matter what we’ve done or with what home doctors have prescribed. So off she went in the back of an ambulance – with a small bag packed with nighties, a hairbrush and toothbrush, a dressing gown, her house keys.

We met with hospital staff yesterday and we realised we’d reached that time we’d always known was coming. She won’t be able to go home to her own home. The hospital will do their best to manage her pain, and to find the best options for her. But when she leaves hospital it will be to go into care.

So last night after we left her in her hospital bed, Ben and I went over to her house to take the perishables from the fridge, water the pot plants and put out the bins for her.

We didn’t think we’d cry, but of course we did. It’s hard to believe that she left in her pyjamas with that tiny bag, and now she won’t be coming back to her home and all the memories and everything she loves.

The only thing that matters to all of us is that she is safe, well cared-for and most importantly that she is not in pain. So she’s in the right place, and this is the right time, but oh, I didn’t think it would be so terribly hard, so terribly sad, or that we would be this emotional.

Maybe it’s better like this. No big dramas, no long-winded goodbyes. No big scenes about putting her into a place she said she’d rather die than have to end up in. She’s happy to stay in hospital or ‘medical places’ until they can get her pain under control. It was a blessing to say goodbye to her yesterday and see her face a little less drawn, and watch her burrow down under the covers and go to sleep in clean sheets, a hot meal in her tummy and kind nurses checking in on her.

Still, we’re struggling with it. Still, we’re wishing there was another way.

Love cracks you open, doesn’t it? But isn’t it fiercely, beautifully worth it to feel it all so deeply.

Biggest hugs to you, my lovelies, from your slightly broken-hearted friend,

Nicole ❤ xx

 

Last One Standing

“Each young person is a poet of sorts, trying to sort out the poetics of their inner life and its relation to the great world around it. Each elder is a philosopher of sorts, trying to sort out the meanings and gleanings of a life as well as the necessary implications of the presence of death.” 
Michael Meade

Many years ago, when I was in my mid-twenties, I hosted a channelling evening at my house. My sister was there, and an Aboriginal friend of ours, her mum and another Aboriginal woman who was a school teacher, and another friend who was staying with us at the time. Me, Simone, Vynette, Leanna, Liz, Tara. Six women of varying ages, sitting in circle on our lounge room floor.

I was nervous because it was one of the first times I had channelled in public, even though they were my friends. But they were very supportive, and so I closed my eyes, settled into meditation and began…

Afterwards we shared cups of tea and a lovely supper spread around my kitchen table. Leanna always brought enough food to feed an army. It’s those Aboriginal values around family and food and love. And of course I am a country girl at heart who always has well-stocked biscuit and cake tins in case visitors arrive.

I never thought anything more of that night until months later. On a crackling international phone line a woman spoke to me from America. Unbeknownst to me Leanna had taped my channelling session and posted it to a friend. Who had shared it with another friend. Finally it had arrived at this woman’s house, a farmhouse in the mid-west, and now she was inviting me to join her group of Elders.

I was the youngest by thirty-three years.

We met by teleconference, and also in meditation. We even shared emails. It became a very important group to me, one I learned much from, and one where we did regular energetic work together for the world. Just a bunch of old people at home, working magic. I was very ill back then so I had the life of an old person too. I fit right in.

In the early hours of this morning I spoke with the last member of the group. There had been twenty-eight of us, but slowly our numbers have dwindled. Last Thursday Kaya died in her sleep. Then there was only two. I spoke with Connie this morning. She is blind now, and going into care. She has cancer too and this part of the road will be short. She is done.

I am the last one standing.

I had a little cry. A big one actually. And then I rallied. It’s my turn now. My turn to repopulate the group. This is how it always is. I was young once, and now I am aging. I have wisdom and teachings of my own to share, and I am the custodian of more that have been shared with me.

That’s the cycle of life, and I am ready.

I’ll keep you posted. Much love, Nicole  xx

 

Before the madness, tea…

“If you are cold, tea will warm you;
if you are too heated, it will cool you;
If you are depressed, it will cheer you;
If you are excited, it will calm you.” 
~  William Ewart Gladstone

 

In the middle of all of this editing and birthday excitement we’ve also been dealing with madness of another kind this last little while.

Ben’s elderly mum, a staunchly independent woman in her early nineties, is needing more and more help to stay in her home. Which is where she wants to stay!

The family has rallied around; bringing her food, taking her to doctors’ appointments, paying bills and managing her household, proving company and care. But things are changing quickly. Suddenly I feel like I need to check in on her every day. Will she remember to take her medication? Is she eating? Is she safe? Is she okay emotionally?

It’s a place many families suddenly find themselves in.

And we live far away for most of each month, although we’ve radically modified that recently to be able to keep a better eye on her.

This morning I’m sitting with a cup of tea, thinking about what to do next, and how best to support my mother-in-law. It’s comforting to know that all of her family are thinking about that too, and we’ll find a way, together, to navigate this next stage of her life, but it’s a sad and worrying time.

Meanwhile, my Melbourne Breakfast Tea hasn’t quite fixed everything, but my goodness it helps.

Sending much love to you and your families, Nicole  xoxo