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  • Writer's pictureLisa Cox

Time and a Memorial

In April I visited my mother for a few days before heading to Italy for the first week of the 3-Year Program in Advanced Healing and Initiation, hosted by FSS-E. My relationship with Mom has always been a little tense, a balance of the very difficult and the very sweet interactions. She was particularly upset to learn I would be gone 2 weeks and not just 1 overseas, and was not feeling well, but we had a couple good games of cribbage, some meals together- though she did not eat with the gusto a great cook normally does- and a big hug and "I love you" before I left.

While away I thought a lot about time. I think about time anyway, but in a different way. I knew there was only so much time left with Mom, and a part of me, just longing to be home in Laramie for the summer, suspected that would not be the case. And then, doing shamanic and doula work, time is always a factor. Time is a construct of this Ordinary Reality. Time is a river. Time flies. Not enough time. Take time. Have time. Alone time. Quality time. Family time. Time to go to work. What is time, really?

Near the end of my visit to Italy I received a call from my mother's good friend Mary, very worried about Mom. She just was not looking good. We'd say she looked like hell. She was not feeling good. She was not eating, and she was losing more weight.

Mom went into the hospital because she was having extreme difficulty breathing. It seemed to me the medical community focused more on her COPD and pumping in the O2 than anything else with my mother. And the entire time I was visiting with her in April, she was obsessed with the little O2 meter you clip on your finger. The doctors had told her to wear it all the time, she said.

But I had a hunch. Then one day Mom told me about a small lunch she had eaten, with some home canned tomatoes. She said it had tasted good, but then she said, "But now I have to get the taste out of my mouth. I need a mint or something." I knew she had cancer.

Just over a month later, I was jetting to Portland, Maine, and on with my brother, who had driven down from Vermont, to the hospital, where Mom lay propped by 2 pillows and heavily dosed on morphine. By then, the O2 tube had been removed from her nose. She had hours to days to live, after having been admitted just two nights before in severe pain, just hours after I had talked with her on the phone and she complained about her hip hurting. "It must be my sciatica."

I had somewhere between 6 and 7 hours with her at bedside before she slipped away, finally at peace. Sleep became a strange thing for a couple days, fleeting, ephemeral, not at the usual time, and not just because of jet lag. I'm back on a more regular schedule, with a heavy week of activity ahead, and I look forward to the time I can just sit alone and grieve. But in the meantime, I find moments to sit alone in Mom's little garden, to pause when I wake in the morning on the yoga mat bed in her bedroom, cuddled up in fuzzy blankets, listening to the birds outside, and while looking in her bathroom mirror as I brush my teeth.

Time time time. How much do we need? For what? How much do we spend needlessly, or worthlessly, pursuing things that are not love? Mom's kids were her biggest love in this life. We were all there for her final hours. Six or 7, there is no difference. It may be that the best slogan for Time is that it is an illusion.

Do not delay that promise to spend some time with your parents, children, family or good friends.

In loving memory of and with profound gratitude for the most challenging and most loving mother I could have had. Brenda Bernice Billings Cox, December 21, 1946 to May 30, 2024

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