"My Mother's Two Deaths" November, 2015

My mother has been dead three years. But before that, she had what Buddhists might refer to as a “little death”. As much as I tried, I wasn’t able to be present at her actual death. Hopping on a plane after it was imminent, I missed it by one day. This bothered me for a long time, not for my sake, but for hers. I know for her, it would have been a happier death with all of her children surrounding her, believing as she did we were her best accomplishment.

She had been ill many times in the years prior, having gotten the “death call” from my sister at least twice. I was still living relatively close at the time, and could drop everything and go. 

One such time, she was rushed to emergency. Her heart was giving out again and I received the call. “Come now”, my sister said. When I arrived at her room, I wasn’t quite prepared for it. Why do people always appear so small in hospital beds? For most of us, seeing our nearest and dearest in their most vulnerable state shakes us to our core, yanking that security rug out from under us with a brutal force. 

She had been put on a respirator, and my sister informed me that because she kept trying to pull her various tubes out-she was always stubborn like that- the nurses had strapped her hands into ping pong-like paddles to protect her from herself. The combination of the paddles and the drugs that caused her to be “out of it”forced her into an indignity no one should have to experience. Not being able to talk or touch, it was her frightened eyes that haunt me now. Wide and pleading, they followed me around the room. I felt like her life raft to what remained of her vanishing world.

Since she was as helpless as a newborn, I exchanged roles with her. For several days, I read to her and sang to her, and chatted on about my life, as she never took her eyes off of me. I knew she was loving me in that moment, and I don’t think I had ever felt so close to her.

She refused to die then, this tiny, frail woman whose stoicism and strength are buried in my DNA, but when I remember her now, I like to think that she did. I like to think that her last memory was of me holding her loving eyes, while channeling my best Ella with Someone To Watch Over Me.

A love song echoes
its lullaby for passage
She sleeps without dreams


San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico

Linda Laino is an artist and teacher living in Mexico. An occasional writer and poet, she enjoys playing with words as much as form and color. Finding beautiful things on the ground is a favorite pastime. Her paintings and jewelry can be viewed at her web page www.lindalaino.com and https://www.etsy.com/shop/lindalaino. Additional essays can be found athttp://www.elephantjournal.com/?s=Linda+Laino

A love song echoes

its lullaby for passage

She sleeps without dreams