Sunday, April 5, 2020

Creative Life: A Love Note For a Waning Moon

My mom in the arms of her mom. 1930.

I'm thinking of my mom today. Her baby sister died last week. Due to COVID, a memorial service will not occur until an as-yet-undetermined date.

My mom's closest brother - her confidant - died a couple of years ago, maybe less. She and her brother could talk about things my mom didn't want to talk about with her adult kids. My mom misses him terribly.

My mom isn't one to express her fears too much. She doesn't like to show her soft underbelly to others. From her mother, she learned the gruff family motto: "Never show the white feather."

The first time my mom faced cancer, which resulted in surgery and chemo, I pointed out, so helpfully, that there were cancer support groups at the hospital. She could talk with other people who walked in the same shoes as she, deriving strength and solace from each other. "Pfft," she sniffed in some disdain. "Why would I want to do that?"

A couple of years ago, my mom had no choice but to enter a hospital and then a rehab facility for a time. Which she loathed.

Sometimes I spent the night with her at the hospital or, later, at the rehab center. On several occasions, my mom said to me, "Come lay down beside me on the bed."  I did so, and I wrapped my arm around her torso, and I laid my head near her shoulder, knowing this was a rare privilege, indeed. Mostly, we just lay quietly, maybe while watching a TV show. I cherish those times.

Her light wanes.

I think of a poem I wrote at a past Tumblewords Project workshop. The leader that day, a poet named Rios de La Luz, walked us through a writing model called "corporeal writing," in which we focus on a part of our body, and how our bodies hold memories. One of the poems I wrote that day arose from childhood body-memories of how my mom would comfort me when I was ill.

As I Die

When I die.
No. As I die,
I want this:

The hand of a lover
On my brow,

Skimming slowly up my forehead,
Across the border of my hair
Atop the remnant of my infantile fontanel.

Pausing there, then
Sliding down the
Silkiness of my hair.

And again.
And again.

Like my mother did
When I was a toddler,
Maybe feverish or maybe
Just settling into a warm sleep.

Like I did for my daughter
As she leaned into me,
Pressed against my belly and my breast,
The rhythmic smoothing of her brow

Up and over,
Up and over.

Like past lovers did for me
As we lay in bed, under covers,
Quiet, thinking of nothing.
Sensing only, that tender instructive
Smoothing of my brow.

Up and over,
Up and over.

"This," I always thought,
"Is how I want it to be as I die."

I hope it's like this for my mom, when that time comes.

Related posts: Travels With Carol

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