I put on a movie for my mother, and it turned out to be one where Donald Sutherland plays an old man with Altzhimers and other complications. He dies of a heart attack at the end of the movie.
To her, it was a very sad movie, reminding her of her own mortality. She can’t celebrate life anymore, not that she ever really did, but rather she fears death, aware of her own limitations in caring for herself and others.
I have often said that there are only two basic approaches to death. We can either fear it and try to wall ourselves off from it (fear), or can accept it and live vibrantly while we are here (love).
My mother fears and feels sorry for herself, her own self-pity celebrating her own failures, wishing and hoping for some kind of ideal and never achieving it, entitling her to be morose. That morosity, then, disempowers her, which generates more failure.
So now she worries about the future, and her worries for her own future taint her vision for the future of those around her. She sits in her recliner and wallows in worry, which never allows her to be actually present, helpful and empowering to those who need to claim their lives. Rather she brings them weight and sadness.
To worry is to invite fear into your life. Is that really something that one should be proud of doing?
To open to her is to open to fear, so one has the choice of accepting fear or staying silent and closed to her. Both of those choices have the kind of consequences that make my heart feel hurt, and I mean that in a practical, physical way. My heart aches, from denial and lack of caring, in a practical, physical way.
To care for her is to carry her with you, always aware of her omnipresent fear, worry and sadness, always ready to be small and broken to respect her chosen pain.
Yes, death is near. As humans, death is never far away, maybe from us, maybe from those we love.
But the lesson of fear and incapacitation just brings death closer, makes it an everday thing.
It is the lessons of love and empowerment that keep life bright and vivid within and around us.
And I miss that in this new spring.