My last song began with the awareness of how my life seemed to go by very fast. I have realized that being connected to my heart has allowed me to blink my eyes and see myself as a child, a young girl, a mature woman and a future “old woman” – all at once. It is like experiencing time travel.
I often find myself feeling emotional as I recall something from my past and then an instant later I can be overwhelmed by seeing a projection of my future. It is almost like I am watching a movie of my life that I can fast forward and rewind at will. At this moment, my future looks exciting and thrilling most of the time. However, there are times when I see future moments that are sad.
I live two separate lives. One is within my own beautiful musical world, and the other is in a practical and physical world with other people and my loved ones. As I dance between the two, I am usually joyous, and often feel like I have an amazing secret about where my life is headed. It has been awkward for me to share those feelings, so I have learned to keep it my secret, for now. But I have a few special friends who know, and I cherish them.
I treasure each day of my life and live with the intense satisfaction of being completely honest and open. This has allowed for tremendous creativity, as I am bursting to express myself. Because I give myself permission, I have boundless energy and my brain explodes with inspiring ideas.
After recording my song “Clear,” I was open to any new music that might come to me. Last week, I heard a beautiful new melody and the timing was perfect. I needed to soothe myself. I was not yet sure what my haunting melody would say, but it spoke to me with the pain that was creeping into my heart.
In order to find it, I concentrated and carefully listened. As I sang the notes that were slowly revealed to me, tears began pool within my eyes. I wondered what lyrics I would write. Most of my songs had already covered many of my emotions, even if they were written decades ago.
For over a week, the melody began to grow louder. I could not write the lyrics, so I decided to write instead about a particular day that captured my emotions.
It was on a Wednesday. My mother’s caregiver, Miriam, brought my mother over to my home for lunch. It was immediately apparent that my mother’s dementia had worsened. It simply continued to advance without any stopping. If dementia could be compared to running a marathon, my mother was closing in on the finish line. She kept crawling forward, unwilling to give up even though her body was failing. Her brain was departing, but her spirit kept her moving forward even though she no longer had the ability to understand why she was doing that. Most of what she said made little sense, and her reality was probably from her past because she kept mentioning names of people I didn’t know.
Love had not left her, though.
I decided that her immense love for her family was the fuel that kept her living.
As I ate my lunch, I tried to converse with my mother. She did not hear me, and her nonsensical responses made me sad. Miriam had so much compassion for the situation and I treasured her presence. I didn’t want to ignore my mother, but talking to Miriam was far more comforting. I tried to navigate between two disparate conversations: one that was artificial and frustrating, and the other that was filled with sorrow at my mom’s worsening condition.
Two days earlier, Miriam had suffered along with my mother at a clinic where my mother received a monthly infusion. Every month for fifty years, my mother has received gamma globulin to help boost her poor immunity. Miriam suggested my mother might need some sedation beforehand because it was becoming increasing difficult to deal with her agitation; it took a long time to put in the IV needle and then my mother’s hands needed to be restrained so she wouldn’t pull it out.
I remembered how my mother used to be so vigilant about these treatments. In the blink of an eye, I flashed forward to the future and wondered when I would decide to discontinue them, which would hasten her death. I decided not to think about it for the present.
It was almost time for my mother to go back to her facility. Miriam adjusted her bib, and cajoled my mother to take one more bite of food. With the blink of an eye, more memories flooded my mind. I remembered when my mother used to boast of how she fed my brother who was underweight after being born prematurely.
The memory became vivid when I saw her feeding Jason. I used to marvel at her energy and ability to get him to eat when I had struggled with it so much. I could see her clearly now; she pretended the food on the fork was going into the airplane hangar and she hummed as she moved it through the air like an oncoming airplane. Now Miriam, was holding a piece of fruit for my mother on a fork. She begged her to take one more bite, but my mother refused. She often had little appetite, and Miriam was desperate to help her eat.
Our lunch was over and there were still a few moments of time left. I was exhausted from trying to maintain the artificial conversation with my mother. I stood up and lightly kissed her cheek and said, “Mom, would you like me to play my guitar for you before you leave?”
She answered, “Yes, I would love that.”
I gasped when she connected with me for the first time that day.
My throat tightened and I felt tears well up in my throat. I went to get my guitar and the emotions within me felt like a huge wave forming at the beach. There was no containing it, and my head began to pound.
I climbed my stairway, and the time travel continued. As I went up the first few steps, I pictured my mother holding onto the rail probably ten years earlier. She was struggling to go up those stairs, but pretended she was fine. For years, my mother refused to ever consider using a walker and she always stubbornly argued that she was strong enough without one.
When the day came where she could no long climb those stairs – it was a sad one that I considered a milestone of her age and continued physical deterioration.
I clutched my guitar tightly with relief. A moment later, I was singing for my mother. I looked over to see my mother’s eyes were closed; it had been less than a minute since I began singing. I looked at Miriam and her eyes were concerned. My mother was asleep. I put down my guitar.
It was time for my mother to go now.
I could see how Miriam was far more attuned to my mother than I was now. It was her daily existence, and much more than just a job. I was so grateful for her and preferred to remove myself from a lot of it because it was far too painful for me. I didn’t allow myself to feel guilty, and I knew my mother would have understood that.
After my mother left, I picked up my guitar and immediately felt better. I closed my eyes. The melody became even louder, and I cried as I sang it.
© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.