What Never Dies

I’ve lately been recognizing the real value of spending time with my mom (94). It’s not to create new memories, or to help with things that she can no longer do for herself. It’s not to reminisce or even to ensure she is getting the kind of care she deserves.

At this stage, when things to do and places to go seem to have lost their sense of urgency, I get to see – really see – who she is, beneath her persona. For me, it’s a soothing preview of what life might be like without her. Below her appearance, her comments, facial expressions and behavior, there is something else. I’ve become acquainted with Mom’s essence – the fuel responsible for each loving word, every kind gesture, all the incredible accomplishments in her life. Until now, I had never noticed it. What a shame. Without it, we would simply be humans who “effort” our way through life, aiming to please, focused on results, insisting that conditions are responsible for creating joy and suffering. Our essence is like a loving parent- it allows this nonsense, loving us anyway, waiting for us to return to it for guidance and replenishment.

When I visit Mom now, I take time to look past her struggles, to also visit with her inner parent. One day, the “her” that people know and love will no longer be. If that is all they had ever noticed, the loss might feel unbearable. But by then, I will be well practiced at spending peace-filled time with the “her” I cannot see, hear or touch. It’s not to say that I won’t be sad; but I will know, from experience, that the loving, gentle presence of my mother will always be here, waiting for me to notice.

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