Winnie The Pooh by A. A. Milne
My mother and I have said that to one another in hundreds of ways through her long, slow dying process, and she said she will always be with me, looking out for me. I believe her. I believe, at the moment of her passing, I will know, I will feel her fluttering around me for a moment until she ascends to her Heavenly Home. I believe that our loved ones are always with us and that we never really lose them. That doesn't mean we don't grieve their parting, but it does give some comfort.
Also, in the quote when Milne wrote, "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." I really needed to hear that just now. One of the scariest things for me is not my mother's passing -- she has been going through a long, slow dying process for over 4 1/2 years now so we are as ready and prepared as we can be under the circumstances, and we now just want her to be at peace, no longer in this suffering body -- is what comes afterwards, when I face the world alone. No husband, no mother, and a whole laundry list of practical things I've never had to take care of in my life that will all fall into my lap at once, practical matters, legal things, buying a new little cottage on my own, and so on, and so forth. It makes me shudder.
The truth is I have not been in good shape at all. I saw my psychiatrist today and she was gentle and loving and is going to help see me through this. Two of my medications were raised for the next month or so to get me over the rough patch, and my doctor is seeing me more often. In addition to my cocktail of mental health diagnoses, I have what my doctor calls "Anticipatory Anxiety," and it has always been a factor in my life. I dread something out of the ordinary so out of proportion to the situation it freezes me, numbs me, and makes me pull back into my shell and hide. I cannot afford to do this now. Of course the first bit of time after it happens there will be the shock, the grief, the collection of feelings, fears, and more that come after the death of a parent. And when my mother dies I will be the Matriarch of the clan. All of my children's grandparents will be gone. As I move into my new position, I want to be strong, but I've felt that "anticipatory anxiety" rising in me from my toes to the top of my head. When I came across the next quote from Pooh Bear, I felt an easing in my innermost self. This quote really spoke to me...
“Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.”
Winnie The Pooh by A. A. Milne
Illustrations by E.H. Shepard
There is a reason adults love the Winnie The Pooh books as much as children do, and the books that came out some time ago, The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet are wonderful books that carry on the philosophies for we adults as we move through life, trying to remember that if a chubby darling bear and a wee little piglet could handle what life had to offer, so can we.
I think there is a reason that the Pooh books have stood the test of time. They are simply written, incredibly sweet and wise, and take us to a place that feels safe. I think sitting in Rabbit's little rabbit hole at his table and having a smackerel of honey with a hot cup of tea must be an incredibly soothing thing. Or living in a little cottage with Winnie the Pooh, or cozying in with Kanga and Roo. I get to treasure these books with my little grandson now, and it's like reliving my childhood when I clung to books to feel safe. I think I will hang out with Pooh and his crew in the Hunded Acre Wood for awhile. I think they will surround me and help me when the time comes, and it will be soon.
My mother has made the decision to stop the medications in the week ahead, and hospice will be called in. She is not expected to live past early July at most. It will not be an easy death, but she is unafraid and at peace with it all. The time has come, and once the rough last days have passed, knowing that she is going to a place where she is light and free of her long-suffering body is one of the greatest gifts I will ever receive.
I have written in these posts more than once about what a great heroine she is to me, that on her worst days if you asked her how she felt, she would say, "Everyday's a good day, it is what you make it. Never forget that honey..." When I spoke to her yesterday, her voice was very tired and weak, almost ethereal, that time when, I believe, part of the spirit has already begun to leave and she is straddling two worlds. It is an awesome and precious time as, to the very end, she is encouraging me, and still more concerned about everyone around her. She will manage this final difficult time with grace, and the peace that passeth understanding, and I will hold tight to my dear one's hand, as Pooh did, and I will remember what Pooh said, that watching the river slipping away from me below I will know everything that there is to know. At least for now. I'm going to hold onto that. It gives me strength just now.
And so it is late now and I am very, very tired. I shall perhaps have a smackerel of honey in my tea, and go to sleep, with a pug snuggled against me, as we hope for a peaceful night's sleep, and wake, once more, tomorrow, to watch the river, the waves of my mother heading toward a distant shore, and I will know what I need to know, and I will survive.