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  • Writer's pictureCarolyne Aarsen

The Ebb and Flow of Life

Newsletter - August 24, 2023


My life has been on hold the past three weeks. In a way, I feel like my life has been in a period of waiting. And now, I'm not waiting anymore.


I thought I would share with you what has been going on. Not to garner sympathy, but just to share.


My mother has been in the hospital for three months, hence the  waiting. On Mother's Day, she ended up, for the second time in the Emergency Department so this time they admitted her.  A month after she was there, we did an analysis of whether she could go back to her independent living facility up.  The hospital staff performed cognitive tests, physical tests and called me with the results. I spent a lot of time on the phone between the hospital and her 'home' as we agonized over what to do.


Then, over a month ago, the decision was made. She was unable to live independently anymore, so she was put on the list for Long-Term Care. What we used to call a nursing home.


A placement in a home came up and we were happy with where she ended up. A lovely facility in a beautiful neighbourhood of the city. She had a wonderful view of trees out of her window and the room was airy and light. The staff was kind and caring. We thought she would enjoy at least a few months there. And then, two days after she was admitted I started getting calls. My mom had fallen She was unresponsive for a time. Then she'd snap out of it and got a bit better. And then, another decline. I shut everything down, drove to the city and stayed with her. The entire time I was with her, my mom slept, unaware of my presence.

 

At least that I could tell. 


I still talked to her, read her some of my e-mails, told her what was going on with the kids, sang to her and played old hymns for her. On Saturday we made the difficult decision to move her care levels to palliative. 


Monday, August 14th, in the presence of my brother and sister-in-law, she slowly breathed her last breath and then, nothing. I was only five minutes away, having supper with my kids and rushed back.


It was strange to see her. 


Here when I left then......gone.

 

Her faith was strong, her love of the Lord evident in everything she said and did. She would always say "All I have needed Thy hand hath provided", quoting a line from an old hymn. So I knew where she was. 


But it seemed so mysterious at the same time. Breathing, alive, then.....this empty shell. Cold. Nothing. A body, but not my mother.


I know many of you have buried parents, loved ones old and young. We buried my father, my husband his father and mother. We tease each other and say we are now orphans. What I experienced isn't special to only me and my family.


Death is woven through life. Apparently from birth, our brain cells start dying. Other cells die and are replenished. It's really a miraculous cycle that can still give me pause when I stop to truly consider it. A mystery.


So what I dealt with wasn't new. But this time around I felt more involved in the process. My mother took care of everything for my father. This time, it fell on me and my siblings.

It's a sad time, but not a tragic time. Mom was ready to go. She had lived almost 92 years. She knew where she was going. we were comforted realizing that.


And yet....and yet....


This was my mother. The person I ran to when the kids were difficult. When I had questions of faith. When I needed a listening ear. When I needed a laugh. She wasn't perfect. At times I got frustrated with her and, I'm sure, she got frustrated with me (though I never knew - I'm just assuming because, well, I'm far from perfect too) 


Putting together the slide show for her funeral service, writing up the eulogy was therapeutic and eased away the memory of seeing my mother's death mask. That hollow face and pallid, cold skin. Again, not my mother. My mom was lively and funny and had many connections to many people. She had a sharp wit and a solid faith. She prayed for all of us, her prayers growing longer as each child was added to the family.


I guess, I'm writing a bit of a eulogy to you. A way of letting you know where I'm at. I'm pulling back, for a time, from writing just to give myself some time to grieve, to catch my breath from months of driving four hours each week to the city to visit her. Of the stress of waiting for That Call to come, knowing it would.


I'll get back to work soon. I have many, many books to write yet and I know I will be diving in as soon as I can. The voices in my head won't leave me alone for long.


But, I will keep you up to date on how the stories are coming, never fear. It's just, there will be a gap between the next two books (which are already written). And I hope you will be patient enough to stick around for them.


Thanks so much for reading so far. Like I said, I'm not looking for sympathy. I am comforted by knowing where my mother is. I know each of you have your own pains and sorrows and I do pray for each of you who share them with me.


I am grateful for each of you, dear people. And thankful you are willing to read my books. That is also a gift and I do appreciate it and never want to take that for granted.


Blessings to each of you as you go through your own journeys and your own struggles. I pray you may feel God's peace and presence, just as me and my family have.



Sharing these pictures of my mother.  One was taken at her engagement, and is one of my favourite pictures of her. The other was taken for her church directory and is also a favourite.

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