Thursday, July 5, 2007

Unconditional Love

As long as the earth exists there will be rain followed by sun. It is required so that life can sustain itself. Some life is more tolerant of drought and thrives in the desert but planted in the wrong climate, shrivels and dies. When tended to by the gardener, any plant can be sustained and even thrive where planted. Such is love...
Two months ago my partner, Bonnie's mother died. After 7 years of lock-down in an Alzheimer's facility she never wished to go to, she was ultimately moved to a home in a neighborhood to a room with a view of Lake Washington. At that point she didn't have the energy to escape the building so her care was somewhat easier, but lack of mobility and enthusiasm for life made care giving difficult at the same time.
For the 7 years and a few preceding the move I witnessed the unconditional love that Bonnie had for her mother even though she denied such love could exist. I would go with Bonnie to visit her mother, Patricia, on occasion and watch as they greeted each other. Pat was angry at being there and seemed to need a scapegoat. Bonnie received hurtful and angry comments, when I could draw out conversations of traveling days and fun adventures in snippets of seemingly unrelated conversations, yet Bonnie continued to visit and love her mother as she remembered the fun person her mother had been, with the slow realization that we are a part of that person-that has gifted us life.
One Seattle morning the sun broke out of the clouds. Bonnie called me and said Pat was "going" and she didn't know what to do. The urge to call for help was strong but we knew it was time to let nature take it's course, and that that was exactly what Pat had wished for. Nonetheless at the final hour it is hard for those left to say goodbye regardless of how much time we have to prepare for that earthly departure. I raced up to her with Bonnie. The hospital nurse was trying to get pain killer medicine but there was too much paperwork left undone so we sat at Pat's bedside and talked as bubbles seeped from the oxygen hose attached to Pat's nose. Pat's brow was tense and furrowed, her eyes had a worried expression. "Call your sister, Bonnie" - "She needs to be here", "Your children are all here-they are coming to see you", I said to Pat. "No, Laurie can't get here, she is in Louisiana", Bonnie retorted. I waived my hand to shush her. "You are going on a trip, a journey, are you ready?" Her brow softened, "Bonnie, do you have any music your mom likes we could get" I was thinking about things that would help me relax and melt away to a different place...No, we couldn't think about those details now. "Where would you like to go now?" "It's ok to go." I said. The pain and tenseness left and we watched an incredible peace come over Pat's body as her spirit departed that sunny day. The transformation was freeing and beautiful as we realized the body is just a vehicle for the living spirit that left on that journey she had been longing to take.


rita said...

the tears fall as this brings back memories one of my best friends and "adopted" brother who took his last journey ten years ago after suffering with Aids...our last conversation took place while he was in a coma...he had shared just days before that he had dreamed about his mother and friend waiting for him in Heaven. As he lay there, he was clearly in distress, I leaned over and whispered that the champagne was getting warm and his mom and Robert were getting impatient,that he should not worry about all of us here as he was prone to do, but go on to the party that awaited him. He strained as though he wanted to speak but, then relaxed. I said goodbye. He passed as soon as he was alone in his room, with dignity...I miss him every day...but he's with me every day as well, especially in my garden. rita

petagi said...

How right you are. I know when I gave permission to my mother to go and that I was there and that it was OK then she relaxed her tension and drifted away.
It's incredible how the human mind controls our behavior even at the very end of our lives. You obviously knew just what to say and do for Bonnie and her Mom. Kerry you are truly very insightful and as we all know very loving. These qualities are now enabling you to go through this trial with the support you so deserve.


kristen said...

Dear Kerry Kat..... I'm not sure if I am doing this right- so before I get too far- I will send this on a trial run!!! XXX Kristen

kristen said...

Oh wow! I think it worked! Yeah... WOW.... I just read all your entries and most of the comments. You are an amazing writer. You are an amazing person!! Where have you been all my life? Our lives have weaved around and around together, touching for just a moment before moving on.. Yes, timing is everything.... now was the perfect moment in this Devine Dance of Life! I am grateful to have come to finally spend time with such a loving, compassionate and courageous soul! Yesterday my gift of healing to you was returned ten fold.... it was I who had the greatest healing. Thank you for sharing these beautiful words of love, healing, courage, faith and hope. Your words will be like the ripple in the water... reaching far and wide in ways you may never imagine. Thank you Kerry Kat! My thoughts and prayers will be with you! Love, Kristen

kristen said...

I was drawn to re-read this entry- it is beautifully written and has touched me deeply. I guess we can never really measure the depth or power of 'love'.... nor understand the full effect of our love upon another. No one can ever know the way in which love seeps into our minds and hearts.... it opens wide the portal of 'grace'. Like the power of prayer, love can give us the courage to survive the greatest challenge. I am not well versed in the Bible- but I do remember 1 Cor. 13.... and the part-"if I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing".... And love crosses all boundaries. If we could all find that unconditional love for not only our family members but for all humanity- what a wonderful world this would be! God bless! Kristen

Jan said...

WOW Kerry, I know exactly what you are talking about. My last words to my Dad last fall as I held his hand were "It's OK" - you are so gifted in your ability to find words

hugs to all of you, Jan

Jan said...

I know what you mean. THe last words I said to my Dad last fall were "it's OK" - you have a gift with being able to express youself.
keep on writing
hugs to all Jan