Friday, July 16, 2010

Your Mother

Do you know Alabaster Cow? And how about Mommypants? They are two talented and gifted writers who have co-founded The Red Dress Club, a virtual writer's group. Every Friday, they will be hosting a "flex your writing muscles" workshop. Today, their writing prompt is "to create a short fiction piece starting with these two words "your  mother."  Here  is mine:


"Your mother, oh, your mother....she is not well. She is not like other mothers. You must take care of her. Promise me you'll take care of her."

I opened my mouth and inhaled deeply, knowing I needed to stop myself from saying the words I truly wanted to say. Words that came rushing to my mouth, and that would have been directed at the wrong person.  My grandmother was dying. The moment I had both feared and prayed for, was here. I had long wished to be at her side when she left me, and not be told with a phone call. How strange it felt to be here, in the hospital with her at this moment, with my heart's desire.

I held her soft, soft hands, staring at them, while memories filled my mind as quickly as the tears that were now spilling out of my eyes. I thought about these hands, and how many times they had gently pulled a comb through my hair, while she softly sang her songs to me. She repeated her plea, "Will you? Will you, please?" Reading my thoughts, she said, "it has to be you. No one else will. You are the patient one. Always you, the one with patience."

She could feel the fatigue and heaviness about my past in my silence. "I know, she has not been good to you. She can't be, she doesn't know how to be. Without me, she will be alone. You must promise me."

I tried to focus on my grandmother's face, the one who raised me. I could see the shape of the face that I had seen through my whole life. I could make out the features that have always been there. Not even the blurred cloudiness of the tears in my eyes could remove the image in front of me. There was the faint sound of the EKG monitor beeping, such a slow beep, that it was hard to believe it was truly on. The neon green heart beats that had been jumping upward on the screen had slowed to a blinking number 24. 24 beats per minute, her heart was slowing down to nothing for me to see.

I took a moment and steadied my voice, knowing that if I spoke too soon, she would hear nothing but a hoarse, breaking attempt.  "Abuelita," I said, feeling the richness of still having her here to say these words to. "Abuelita, I love you, I love you so very much. If you need me to do this, for you to go, then I will. I will do it."

She let out a soft sound that could have been a sigh of relief. I cannot remember, it may have been her last breath, also. At the same time of her deep exhalation, the green blip on the screen that had been measuring her heartbeats, stopped. I blinked and stared, grabbing the bedrail, as if that act would help me to understand the reality of what the machine was forcing me to accept.

I felt myself wanting to shout her name, and grab her by the shoulders and shake her telling her she had to stay with me. I barely recognized myself in the force of those feelings. She was all I have ever had in my life. She couldn't leave me. One of the hardest things in that moment was to stop myself from those actions that I wanted to do more than anything.

Instead, I stood at her beside, numb with awe in realizing that I had received the only gift that I had sincerely prayed for since I was a little girl, to be here, with her, at the time of her death. Yes, I had prayed to be with her at this time, but never had I dared to believe that I'd be blessed with my prayer answered.

I squeezed my eyes shut, in the deepest prayer of thanks that my soul has ever sent. It was in this moment of humbling realization of the miracle that had just been given to me, that I found the ability to do what had to be done next.

I walked over to the phone, and dialed the number for her Doctor. I told him the time of her deep sigh, according to what the military time clock on the hospital wall above the bed showed.  I didn't call the nurses, they didn't need to come yet. I stood next to her bed, and stared hard at the face that I was so afraid I would forget. Time has a way of fading your memory, even from the things that you think you are unforgettable. 

I was counting on this to be on my side. Maybe time would help me forget the things that needed to be forgotten, so I could keep my promise to my grandmother.  I reached for the phone, and began to push the buttons that would connect me to my mother.

She would need help with arranging my grandmother's funeral.

60 comments:

  1. Beautifully written. Reminds me of my last moments with my mother. Selfishly not wanting her to leave, but bravely telling her it was ok to go. Wanting her to be free, at last.

    ReplyDelete
  2. you are invited to follow my blog

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh my. Wow. That was very powerful. Well done. I was nowhere near my grandmother when she died, I was having a baby and I like to think that would of been her choice if she had been asked. I have a feeling when I think of her death my memories will include this story. Excellent.

    ReplyDelete
  4. like the new look of the blog! and you've captured the last couple of moments with the main character's grandmother exquisitely. we can all relate to that feeling of not wanting to let go but needing to.

    and thanks for mentioning the club!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow. Awesome. Obviously there is even more to this story. I love how you wove it together. Also, when did you change your theme? it looks good.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This made me feel sad--what a burden to put on a child...to care for her mother, and not the other way around. Vivid and poignant!

    ReplyDelete
  7. This makes me think of the time of my grandaddy's funeral. I wasn't able to go because of just having our third baby. Our son was just a few days old, and I was up rocking him in his room. I was thinking of Grandaddy really, really hard and how much I missed him, when all of a sudden our boy smiled and giggled in his sleep. I like to think that he had just met his grandaddy for the first time. It made me smile and laugh.

    Like the new blog look, chickie!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wow! I love the way you wrote this!
    You wrote it with such feeling...
    Good stuff!
    Keep writing!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love that, how you remember what you don't want to and forget what you do want to. Excellent job.

    Love the new look (that will be my view in a few weeks - yippee!) and thanks so much for the shout-out for our club!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Well done. There is so much more to this story. I hope you will tell it. Have a good day. Blessings...Mary

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wow! So beautiful, it brought tears to my eyes. Really well done.

    ReplyDelete
  12. You are a beautiful writer girl. Loved this. And you have been busy makin some fun changes over here too. Love that background pic.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great job! I felt as though I were in the room. Very touching.

    ReplyDelete
  14. As soon as I read the first line I had to take a deep breath.

    Beautiful. And so very poignant. "She doesn't know how to be." Ahhh, my girl. You have expressed something so hard and so painful and turned it into a sad, beautiful song. Excellent job.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm seeing some beautiful posts today with this. I think this one hit me the most though. It's a perfect moment in time, perfect opening, perfect ending.

    Standing ovation. Well done, Empress.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I love how you build to the conclusion. This scene is all about the internal conflict, the love of self vs. love for others. It's about release and hopefully, redemption.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wow! Very Well done. When do we get the next chapter?
    I'm liking the look too : )

    ReplyDelete
  18. Great story Alexandra, well written and captivating.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Oh, I feel so sad for this character. Well, well done.

    I'd like to meet the mom who needs to be taken care of one of these days - I imagine she's quite the character.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This story brought tears to my eyes. Standing next to someone on their death bed is a unique experience and you capture it beautifully. I also love the theme of letting go, which is paramount to our sanity since death is a part of life. Bravo!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Wow! You are a very talented writer. Obviously there is more to this story. Perhaps it will continue?

    Well written, Empress. Very touching. I loved it!

    I thought of my grandmother today. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  22. You, my long lost friend, have a true gift. A way of making the reader feel in the moment with you.

    ReplyDelete
  23. The emotions are amazing! I feel almost like this is a personal story, not fiction. Because it is so real. Your voice is so real. Great job!

    ReplyDelete
  24. That was riveting. Really awesome writing!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I think that's so honorable of you to want to be by her side.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Awesome. I want more!

    I love Alabaster Cow - and now I love Mommypants based on her name alone...

    ReplyDelete
  27. Oh Alex, what a great job you did.

    So wonderfully written. The granddaughter in me felt every moment of that.

    ReplyDelete
  28. *sniff* just beautiful *sniff*

    ReplyDelete
  29. Big sigh. That was beautiful.
    Cheers, jj

    ReplyDelete
  30. Wonderful writing piece. Off to read the others as well. Loved the follow-through on the granddaughters part, it brought the short story full circle.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I had the chills. So well written. I have been very fortunate to have my mom and dad around but dread, just dread the time when they won't be with me any longer. This was so moving. So well written.

    ReplyDelete
  32. This makes my throat ache. When I think of you, I think of the Scripture "God sets the lonely in families" - you are surrounded by the family you never had apart from your grandmother.

    big hugs

    ReplyDelete
  33. nicely played...there is an odd tension when it is a parent...of not wanting to see them hurt and not wanting to see them go...and then not sure if you can carry their burden...i can feel it...

    ReplyDelete
  34. This was heart-wrenchingly beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  35. The twist to this story (from mother to grandmother) was unexpected and intriguing. And, like many of your readers above, I would love to hear more...great job!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Thanks for pointing me in the direction of the virtual writer's group. I just email serveral people asking about this EXACT thing today! Nice!

    ps moving piece

    ReplyDelete
  37. You have such a way with words....absolutely beautiful!!
    Much Love Daphne

    ReplyDelete
  38. So well done! I know more than a few women who could identify with it!!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Fabulous. So moving and sincere. More please...

    ReplyDelete
  40. Do you feel like it an awesome responsibility to be with someone when they take their last breath on this earth? There is so much feeling in this post, something for everyone to relate to.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Being with someone at the end is a true gift. I love how you've captured it.

    ReplyDelete
  42. her death was something you feared and prayed for. so real.
    being there for someone passing is nothing short of an other wordly experience for sure. we have to be careful what we ask for. sometimes we get it.
    well done.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Oh, this was lovely. You just made me cry and cry.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Such a moving post. I didn't know any of my grandparents, and to picture myself being raised by a gramma and then having to hear the last sigh is just heartbreaking.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Thank you for coming to visit me in Crazyville your Highness :-) See you at Mom Renewal and here :-)

    ReplyDelete
  46. Lovely! I think I might need a kleenex now!

    ReplyDelete
  47. THANK YOU all so much for your kind comments. This was something different, and you encouraged me.

    I appreciate everything, every word, that was left here for me.

    Thank you so very much.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Great job! I was sad when it was over. Will it continue?

    ReplyDelete
  49. Wonderful new look, for a wonderful heartfelt post. I could hear your Abuelita's whisper.
    Dana

    ReplyDelete
  50. Oh wow. This was absolutely gorgeous. I'd definitely love to read more of your short fiction on here!!

    ReplyDelete
  51. Wow - what a story you have started. My heart felt so heavy for you during this moment - thank you for sharing it with us. Really - so well don!

    ReplyDelete
  52. You are a very talented writer. I was right there in the room with you saying goodbye.

    ReplyDelete
  53. You wrote this beautifully, A. I also had the same thought while I was reading it - what a miracle that you were right there when your grandmother took her last sigh. Just you and her. I was very moved by the image you painted of trying to remember her face, saying how even when things seem unforgettable that time has a way of erasing them...I feel that way often whenever I look at my son's face and understand that someday it will feel vague and fuzzy to me. I'm sorry for your loss, and hope that you have a lifetime of wonderful memories to go back to whenever you need.

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails