Celebrating a Year

April 2019

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On April 1, I get a call from my brother in New Hampshire– hospice says Mom is actively dying. What does that mean exactly? No one knows. A few days, a couple of weeks. But there is no time to ponder that. The next day P and I drive up to see her. We take our instruments and books of Brazilian music as apparently she is frequently non-responsive. We can always play music for her. But she wakes up and smiles to see us. We play her a video message from my sister, and Facetime with my brother in PA. We sing some songs with her, ones I remember from my childhood. I’ve brought a card that she reads over and over again. And at some point, as I’m leaning in to listen I realize she is making up a song to P’s guitar noodling, from some of the words on the card, singing: “blosooms in spring… love, marilynn”. As she tires we slide into playing some of our favorite Brazilian tunes. In a bit she is lying back in her wheelchair and appears to be going back to sleep. I am fighting tears, realizing this is likely the last time I will see her. I get up to kiss her good-bye and she clings to my arm and whispers anxiously “Don’t leave me alone!” “Of course not, Mom.” “Play some of your lovely Brazilian music.” Later, on the drive home, I marvel that her dementia seems to have lifted for a moment to hold the memory of our playing, to want it to continue. So we play on as she lies back in her chair, eyes closed, waggling her feet, dancing to the music, showing us she is still here with us. We play our last tune, “Eu Quero Sossego,” (I wish you peacefulness) as she slips into sleep. We pack up, I kiss her goodbye, and sob all the way to the car. Yet Spring, undeterred by grief or inattention, continues its show of blossoms as new spring-green leaves appear and the weather warms. And 4 days later I get the call in the middle of the night. She is gone. There is no sleep, texting children, siblings. Mine will come for the memorial. I grab onto the thought of the whole family gathering to say goodbye and enlist the help of my sister and niece to find a date when everyone is free. Spring continues its transformation, but I only notice every once in awhile. Grief, unexpected as hers was a long life so this was expected. But logic doesn’t mitigate the loss. I go through the motions of my life. I miss Rio, especially on the Dia da Choro, April 23,  where I should be right now had not life luckily conspired to keep me at home. I go back to arranging music for my summer school, walk with my friend B. Watch the parade of flowers. Write her obituary, plan her service. I can’t continue with my blog. Even now, 4 months later as I write this, pre-dated so it slots into my year, it is hard to remember our goodbye. Her service is/was June 8 and I can’t move ahead to write that until I’ve reconciled this. I choose this photo– taken on her 90th birthday– for her obituary. This is how I’ll remember her: holding court, telling stories, singing songs, happy to be with her family, happy to be alive.

Written by mairmusic

April 30, 2019 at 2:24 pm

Posted in April

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