It’s good to talk

Since the latter part of February, my life has been upturned. My mother is extremely ill with, it transpires, an inoperable brain tumour. This is impacting her mobility amongst other things, whilst her mind remains largely unaltered; though she is now bed-bound, is increasingly weary and sleeps a great deal.

I’m not going to dwell on the distress of all this, which is extreme. I want to focus on one thing today, which is the strange privilege afforded to the loved-ones of someone in my mother’s condition.  And that is, that we are – at last – beginning to say to one another the sort of things we don’t normally address in our regular daily lives.

Wholly independent for all of her now 82 years, my mother has lived alone since my father died almost 30 years ago; she has travelled extensively, written two books, given talks and spearheaded an incredible 20-year project to re-establish her grandfather’s and her family’s heritage in Leipzig, Germany, the city of her birth. I will write more on this in due course, as it’s an incredible story. But for now, I want you to know that my mother is a unique lady, an intellectual, a reader and writer, who lives life very much on her own terms. And as she faces this most challenging of times, not much about that has changed.

We’ve never been a particularly emotional or overtly expressive family when it comes to affection and so on; and we’re still not. But my mother and I are now talking of how much we love one another, how proud we are, how we admire and respect the way we have each chosen to conduct our lives. I love that I can say these things to my mother, and that she can also hear them from the many friends and acquaintances who are taking the time to visit with her. I love that I can hear from her, what she thinks of me, and how happy I have made her through so many aspects of my life, and lately through achieving something I’ve never managed before, to lose so many excess pounds and ‘get healthy’. (In fact, an aside, I have no idea how I could be managing the present circumstances, were I still hauling around that extra 70 pounds.)

The situation and its inevitable consequences are what’s driving this bittersweet aspect of our conversations, and whilst I would wish it away with all my heart if I could, I am strangely grateful for this opportunity and the words we are exchanging.

Whilst it’s exhausting, physically and emotionally, I’m acutely aware of the other privilege afforded to me, of being able to care for my mother at this time.  As a self-employed/freelancer I have been able, through the kindness and forbearance of my clients, to take a temporary break from work.  Periods during which I could concentrate and focus on work projects are minimal and diminishing, and I’m very grateful that I have extremely understanding clients, and that no employer is hopping from one foot to the other somewhere, expecting me to balance what has become the most important (indeed the only important) thing in my life, with business matters.  I know it might seem strange that I’m regarding this all-consuming and discomforting challenge as a privilege, but I have recently learned of a friend whose mother has just died, with absolutely no warning at all, and this friend is in shock at having been robbed of their mother so suddenly. Meanwhile I’ve been granted the privilege of care, and of loving conversation.

So this is today’s contemplation; that there are grains of positivity and comfort in even the most traumatic circumstances; that it’s good to talk; that you shouldn’t really ever put off saying the things you always mean to say, but never quite do; that there is nothing, nothing at all, as important as loving, comforting, reassuring and caring for those who are dear to you.

I’ll be back sometime soon, internet friends.

27 thoughts on “It’s good to talk

  1. It’s often in the darkest times that we find new insights – and connect with others in ways we didn’t before.

    Big hug. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and everything else will sort itself out over time. X

  2. Julie, I’m so sorry. And also so proud of you and impressed by your insights and wisdom. Treasure this part of your life, fleeting though it may be (or not); store up the moments against the future. You will look back on this time later — with tears, yes, but also with the joy of always having these days to remember.

  3. I’m sorry to read of your mother’s illness and the heartbreaking truth of her prognosis, Julie. Your words are poignant and moving. It is well that you see the gift in these last precious moments together. Sending you both strength and my prayers.

  4. So sorry to read about this – I’m glad you’ve been able to take time to spend with her. She sounds like a remarkable woman. I went through a similar experience with my father and I was always grateful too that I was able to spend time with him. Much love to you.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment and positive words. It isn’t easy, as you clearly know for yourself, but it’s time I know I will value when I look back.

  5. Such a touching and thought provoking piece Jules. On the one hand, death out of the blue, for the victim can seem a kindness as they have no inkling, or very little of the end; yet to those left bereft it feels the cruellest. On the other side, the long drawn out demise can seem torture of a different kind. To find some solace in those approaching darkening Shadowlands is indeed a privilege even if, inevitably it will seem little enough when it ends. Bon chance and take the littlest grain of comfort perhaps from my experience (both my parents went over a short period when the end was inevitable) which is they never leave you, and those final moments resonate in captured memories that pop out and reprise at the oddest yet most beautiful of times. To have, as I still do, arguments with my dad while out walking is truly the privilege I was not expecting but for which I am grateful.

  6. An extraordinarily beautiful post. My own Mother had breast cancer two years ago. By God’s grace she has recovered and gone into remission but I treasure every minute of this borrowed time with her. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  7. Wonderful post, Jules. Family especially mothers are a binding influence on ones family, no matter their health. I lost my Mom in February and it’s been hard to live without her. My brother, sister and I took turns for several years staying with her and it was so enjoyable to pay back a little of what she did for us. Then she went to live with my sister and it got even better spending time with her. She was ready to pass on to the next step but we weren’t ready. he still comes to me in my waking hours and drams and that’s a blessing. You made me feel good with a feeling of family love. Thank you.

    1. What a lovely comment, Dannie, thank you. I’m sad for you that you lost your mother. One thing I’m learning is that we have to allow people to prepare to exit this world their way. We may not always agree with their approach, but it is their time, and their decision.

  8. This is a beautiful post, Julie. I’m so glad you and your mom have this time to share your thoughts and love. It really is such a wonderful gift and the key to dying with peace and grace. When I used to work in hospice, it was an honor to watch these conversations unfold and see the great comfort that came through having them. I wish you and your mom my very best as you journey together down this path. ❤

    1. Thank you Diana. You have a unique perspective, having seen these kinds of conversations unfold in the hospice context. The process is tough, but the conversations are precious.

  9. What a lovely and positive view of what must be such a challenging time.

    I have always thought that having the opportunity to say a proper goodbye to a love one is indeed a privilege and in so many ways a shared experience that in the long term is so helpful and positive for both individuals to deal with such tough time. Wishing both your mum and yourself – love, light and peace. Brian

    1. Thank you, Brian. It’s hard to see beyond the pressures of the moment right now, but when I come to look back, I feel I will be grateful for this time.

      1. You can but take one caring step after another right now. I do hope that even though this time must be so difficult, the fact you are both saying in words and showing is practical terms how much you love one another will bring you both strength and some comfort in the long-term. Take care of yourself. We are all sending love from your blogging community friends. Brian

  10. I am so sorry to hear about your mother. The same happened with my mother in that we had ten precious months with her at the end to say and do all that we wanted to. Looking back two years on, I treasure those times as the best time we had together in our entire lives. Thinking of you at this time. Take care.

    1. Thank you Elizabeth. Very sadly, I had only two months, but we made them count as far as we could. I will write more in due course.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s