As time has marched on since her passing, my conversations with my mother center less and less around Ansley. It is a normal progression, I suppose, and a healthy one at that. However, my bed/sofa ridden times as they have been over the past month, have surfaced memories that had been filed away. They are the ones of struggles and challenges and helplessness.
For 3 years she lived largely in the bed. I can see her -fogged out of her mind in attempts to cover her pain. Her mouth slightly parted and eyes a little droopy. She would smile a little half smile. She was very child-like.
Three years...and I have had only 4 weeks. In no way can I comprehend what her months and years felt like. Each day for me has seemed like a year. I won't venture to guess how they felt to her. I am not forced to contemplate the end of my life as she did each day. All of the variables we had with Ansley - the attempt to control pain, not be over medicated, the push to see doctors, the unknown diagnosis, the constant shuffling of schedules, kid pick-ups, household chores, and my own sense of guilt are so uncomfortably familiar...it just heaps on the emotional pain along with physical. It is a new level of understanding for me and it is very unsettling. This new place of understanding brings new compassion, compassion I wish I could have shown her. The fact that I am at a new level of empathy racks me with guilt - did I shower her with true sympathy and love while she was here?
This has also brought a particularly cruel sadness to my mother. She would never voice that, but I have seen it and felt it. After my failed epidural procedure last Wednesday, the nurse pushed me in a wheelchair to my waiting mother and her car. Wheeled up to the car door, I made the quick move to the front seat which was reclined all the way back. My mom helped get the door closed and then got into the driver's seat. As we pulled away, she said, "Seeing you wheeled out brought back a flood of memories of me picking up Ansley so many times." At that, she burst into tears and sobs. It hurt me.
My mom has picked up the ball with my kids and their activities. As school is winding down there are the usual parties, field trips, etc. Lily's last day was yesterday, Thursday. The parents were to come for the final party which was followed by a little performance of her music class. My pain level would not allow me to handle what would amount to 2.5 hours of sitting and standing, so my mom agreed to be my stand-in. After the event, mom brought Lily home. She sat down in the kitchen to tell me all about it. I could see the entire day had brought back memories of being in that same role for Graylyn. Once when Ansley was still living and then last year at Graylyn's graduation when Ansley was gone.
She is once again thrust into the role of caregiver, provider, limousine driver, launderer, dishwasher, errand runner, etc. I know in my heart that it is one she does willingly and happily, but I know where this has taken her and I am sad.