Sophia's Peace Work

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

For my Mom ...

Sorry for the long delay in posts and this one will be a departure from pervious topics. While on vacation in the U.S. my mother died and my stay was lengthened. The memorial service is in a few days and then I will return to Iraq. The following is an entry from my journal, written a few days ago.

I have a very distinct memory of a time when I was a child contemplating the future death of my parents. The notion of their death was so horrible and cruel to me at that time and the feeling of my love for them was so palpable I could taste it in my mouth.

I think that as I grew up, this feeling, which was so poinent and pulse-quickening in my youth became more tempered by the time I was able to start contemplating my own death. For of course, I too would follow them in this fate as we all shall.

Unlike the other members of my immediate family, I was not present when my mother died, so I do not have that last image of her lying in that hospital bed stuck in my head. When she was dying, I was on a ferry boat trying to return to her. I was writing in my journal at about that time, "Mom, I love you, but I don't want you to suffer ... I don't want you to wait for me. Just go." She died and my last memory of her was of hugging her goodbye two days before and thinking, 'My, she seems so much more frail than the last time I hugged her.'

Two weeks before that, when my mother greeted me at the bus station upon my return from Iraq, I saw large bloody bruises under her skin, which I learned later were caused by Coumadin, a blood-thinning medication she was on. The very sight of these dark patches on her skin brought me back to my childhood fears and I didn't ask her about them. I could hardly even look at them. Such a coward I was and it was my mom that raised the issue to explain them, surprised that I had not.

It's not out of callousness or uncaring, I should have had the courage to tell her. It was simply that old fear that I could not acknowledge or face. My mother was flesh and blood and one day I would lose her.

She's been gone several weeks now and I still have the memory of that last hug goodbye but now that I have returned to my parents house, other memories creep in. Cooking dinner for my parents. Arguing and upsetting my mom in the car over the purchase of an air mattress. Seeing her in her chair, the one I now sit in. Her pink sweater that I saved from Goodwill that still smells of her a little. Her things are all around me. Her home. And I'm struck by all the simple things here that can stop me in my tracks, force me to close my eyes and remember her. I prey that these are memories, both painful and sweet, that I will never lose.