The machines are all going: the dryer humming softly in the background, the dishwasher gurgling and chug, chug, chugging in the foreground. The green onions and fresh broccoli sit unwashed in the sink and the grocery bags still need to be put away. I never had my shower this morning and the dog still needs walked (but she's sound asleep at my feet so I'm not sure if she truly misses it at the moment). I have plans to try out a new banana muffin recipe this afternoon made with whole wheat flour and pumpkin.
The wind is blowing a gale outside, causing the temperature to soar for this time of year to 76 degrees. It always seems to happen during the peak of color during our fall. The trees turn beautiful shades of red, yellows, browns and oranges, but the winds come roaring up from the south, ripping the leaves from the branches and making them swirl and twirl in the air. It's like watching mini rainbow tornadoes outside the windows.
This morning's chaotic phone call with Mom is over and she seems calmer now. She woke at three this morning, full of sorrow over Julia and worry about Stephen's trip to Africa. I tried my best to comfort her, telling her that these are the times when you just have to let go and put all your trust in God that He will watch over Stephen and keep him safe on his travels, that He will hold Julia in the palm of His hand, carrying her through these final months and comfort us all. By the time we hung up, her tears were dried and I could hear the smile in her voice again.
I never thought that I'd become the mother and that she'd become the child. Mom has always been the strong one, powering through one childhood crisis after another, raising three kids on Dad's English professor's salary. She laughed with abandon and had the best lap in the world for cuddling and snuggling. She used to sit on the floor next to me during my asthma attacks, rubbing my back where my "Asthma Itch" lived, telling me to think of the color blue to help calm me down from the terror I felt at having to fight to breathe. She would play Vivaldi at full volume while she baked bread in the kitchen, bouncing and humming and swaying to the beautiful music as she kneaded the dough on our red formica countertops. She never let on that we never really had enough money for the big Christmases and birthdays that she made sure we had. I never saw her take a sick day; the one week that she had pneumonia and stayed in bed, I was never more scared in my life, convinced that I would be left motherless and alone. In my child's mind, I never thought that Dad would still be with me, that he'd be the one to finish raising Stephen, Julia and me. He and Mom were always (and still are) one and the same in my head. They are one person, "MaDa" as Stephen used to call them.
Mom is the bedrock of our family, but lately that bedrock has been crumbling bit by bit, sometimes just a little landslide, other times - - - like this morning - - - a giant landslide, the boulders crashing down the mountain side, burying trees in their wake. She's scared and overwhelmed and exhausted and is so in love with her dying daughter. Is that what love looks like? This wild, passionate love that all mothers feel toward their children? Her heart is breaking in front of my eyes and I can't heal it for her, I can't fix it for her with a Band-Aid and a hug and kiss. It's so hard to watch my mother grieve, to go through the very thing that I went through so many years ago. It's unfair and cruel and so wrong. Let me have her grief, her exhaustion, her heartbreak, her terror. I've been through all that already, I know how to process it, how it's "done". I already have the cubbies inside me that hold all that grief and rawness and numbness and there's plenty of room for my mother's grief.
Give all that to me.
Just spare my momma.