Here's the scene: Deep scarborough hospital. Anne has been coming to the ICU night after night, in response to phone calls from nurses who surmise that the latest flooding of Verna's heart might mean her last. Dutiful daughter would haul herself out there by way of cab - the wheel trans couldn't be booked in advance for these situations - and wait by her mother's bedside. Verna wasn't lucid when I accompanied Anne, but she wasn't totally out of it. She seemed kind of in between, as though her consciousness was transluscent, blending in with all that surrounded her. These visits were harrowing for her daughter, whose last experience with hospitals had been traumatizing and shocking, and ultimately life-altering. Nonetheless, Anne wanted to be present for her mother as much as possible, and so she was. Verna made a play toward consciousness just as she exited, held Anne's hand during her last gasp, and then shimmered away. I had never seen anyone die, but this looked like the kind of death many people wish for: peaceful and with a loved one. We left the hospital, the morning sun upon us, and waited for the cab to drive home.
Anne recalls two years ago today as the last day that her mother was conscious and happy. "Yuula even fed her some food." I think about Anne and her friend Tina's mom talking a few months ago. Tina has MD, and her mom said "The chord between a mother and a kid with a physical disability is never cut." I don't know that I attribute Anne's closeness to her mother to disability at all, but I do know that they were unusually and admirably close and peaceful, in the way that people wish to be between parent and adult child. Perhaps their interdependence had started from Anne's different ability and needs, but it had certainly grown into a joyous and nurturing relationship in both directions. Anne was just saying she recalled that the moment her mother died, the song "Go Your Own Way" by Fleetwood Mac, entered her head, as though her mother was telling her to go on and have some fun. I have no doubt that Verna appreciated all the attention Anne gave her in her last days, and that she would be happy to see her daughter's hard work incarnate as painting. I think Verna invested a confidence and love in Anne, such that, after her death, she knew Anne would be fine to take care of herself, settle the estate, have some laughs, drink some drinks, cry a bunch of tears, see male strippers, and spread the joy she regularly does. I think what I'm about to say is stupid, but I believe it: I think Verna was ready to go, even if Anne wasn't ready for her to go. From what I see, greiving doesn't get easier as time goes on. But it does change. It's good to speak of the dead, death, dying and all of that. Not ignore it or avoid it. I have nothing profound to say, and very much admire the blogger that regularly undertakes this task. But today she must paint. And if you know her, drop her a line and say what's up over the next few days. Remember Verna in all her white haired, humanist, underwear show loving glory. She did, after all, birth a veritable genius.
Simone Eileen Schmidt