Last week I wrote my mother's obituary.
She didn't pass away but she is quite ill and, being 'the writer in the family,' I assumed the task would fall to me--an honor I didn't want to attend to in the midst of inevitable grief.
A month ago she underwent a procedure that didn't go quite the way any of us had planned, and she wound up with a feeding tube inserted and the inability to swallow. Coupled with several other serious health issues, she lives now in skilled nursing care near her home in Indiana. Fortunately, I was able to stay with her for a period of time in the hospital but had to return to Texas. Coordinating her care long distance, along with my siblings and a case manager (who can't possibly be paid what she's worth!), has created a level of stress in me I've not experienced before.
So, this past week, when a girlfriend trip that had been planned for months loomed nearer, I simultaneously panicked that my mom's health might cause me to cancel (three friends flying here from three different states) and looked forward to a welcome distraction from my worries.
|Trisha, Traci, Sonya and me at the Dallas Arboretum on Saturday.|
In our book club we read classics such as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and The Scarlet Letter, popular fiction including A Prayer for Owen Meany and Year of Wonders and one or two titles that no one really liked--ahem, The Corrections. In the eight years since I've moved away, we've shared several titles long-distance (from me: Jantsen's Gift and, of course, Calling Me Home, and more). Being able to recommend books and knowing that my friends are experiencing the pages I've read has helped bridge the physical gap between us.
After four glorious days of shopping, eating, movies, eating, talking, eating, shopping ... it's no surprise, that in the somber stillness of this Monday morning--with my dear friends back in their faraway homes--the church pew that sits in my foyer is stacked with items too large/heavy/breakable to be tucked into suitcases. Among the treasures waiting to be mailed home are books--books I've read and feel my friends must read, too.
What a lovely thing, this sharing of stories--our own and others', some true and heartbreaking; some fictitious that have allowed us to escape, to laugh, to indulge. What a lovely experience, to have friends come to visit and spend time together after many long months apart. What a lovely gift, to know people and to allow them to know you--even your flaws and mistakes and shortcomings--and realize you are loved.