The last few weeks, my siblings and I have been walking that final journey with our mother. The kindness of so many people has been so evident in their care of my mother. It is a blessing to watch and to be part of the love she receives in these last days..
As many have walked this same journey, they might appreciate the struggle that words bring. Finding words or the right words to describe what is happening is difficult at best. My mother is at a place where articulating words is almost impossible, but she still at times tries to share.
I remember a song from the musical My Fair Lady, “Words, words, words, I’m so sick of words.” The song’s title is “Show Me.” The youtube.com version is not a particularly good video cut, but the point of the song is that it’s not the words that matter, but the actions, hence the title “Show Me.” Eliza Doolittle sings she is sick of words and wants to “see” what the words are supposed to mean.
I am not sick of words. I am not frustrated like Miss Doolittle, instead I am searching for words. The English language does not seem to have enough synonyms for the response to the question “how are you?” When the response is “okay” or “fine”, those words do not give a depth of meaning and yet, when I, like many others are walking holy paths, there may not be other words. The other responses or synonyms are “all right, fair, middling, so-so, not bad” and they also do not articulate what is happening.
Being a midwife for someone from this life to the next is hard work, holy work, sad and joyous work. Sometimes answering “okay” is the only answer when asked “how are you?” It is not a silly response or an untruthful one. For me, I don’t have the words to describe all the feelings that walking this sacred path with my mother entails.
My sister took a couple of pictures yesterday of her and of me and my mom. Rather than describing, perhaps “showing” makes more sense.
Hands intertwined while she sat with mom and our mother slept, having moments, few and far between when she was lucid. Or perhaps this:
Small sips of water to wet her mouth and throat from the drying effects of the oxygen. Both times wrapped in a cuddly warm animal print blanket, purchased by my sister, in order that she feel warm and cared for no matter what is happening.
These are truly sacred and holy moments which defy description but are blessed by the presence of Love and the Divine Spirit. I believe that when John talks about “the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us” the gospel writer is not writing those phrases in order that people might “talk” about the Word, but might experience the Holy and Sacred presence of the Incarnation. It is not so much about “words” but about God’s place among God’s people, fully, and present.
As I walk these days, these hours and these moments, I deeply appreciate Paul’s words, “that nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God.” My mother’s journey will take her from this life, from love here, to life and love in the everlasting presence. She is not separated from God, neither am I, nor my siblings nor any who have ever walked this final journey with a loved one.
Perhaps, in the end, no words are needed, only the strength, the power and comfort of Love.