Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hanging On and Letting Go

 Her frail frame defies the strength of her will. A will hued out of years of tenacious refusal to let the fractures in her life shatter into a thousand broken pieces.

 But now with the husband gone and the children grown, her body, stiff and hard, gives in to the insidious invader that travels its pathways unhindered and sets up outposts, first in her back and now in her brain.

She’s still funny, this woman who used to fill my mind with stories of kings and queens and ancient mariners, who built real domed igloos out of blocks of frozen snow and taught us to find the reclusive jack-in-the-pulpit in early spring.

We laugh as I threaten to pop a wheelie with her wheelchair as we head toward the door marked Pet Scan. Although a grandmother myself, I say, “Ah, Mommy, my pet, now we’re all going to know what you’re made of.”

My sister Jan, who takes care of our mother, had been telling me about mom’s sudden and rapid descent into disconnect, but I couldn’t imagine the woman I had seen just weeks before could be that bad.

“Well, for example,” Jan said, “I told her she was too close to the edge of the bed, so she rolled over on her side, and then stopped and looked at me and asked, “Did you just give me a suppository?”

We laughed and laughed and then we sighed.

During the night I heard voices.  Jan, who was not feeling well herself, said, “Mom’s crying.”
Shaking off my sleep, I entered her room. Frustrated between hanging on and letting go, she obsessed about the items on her nightstand: glasses, pills, flashlight and a paper with the name of the kind bereavement counselor—the last representatives over which she had control.

 I crawled into bed, wrapped my arms around her and talked about fun memories and the stinky things of life and hope in the Lord. On her wall facing us next to a picture of her and her parents is a picture of Jesus.

As I prayed over her, I saw her in heaven, her outer shell cracking and hurling off in fragments as her new body emerged full and ripe with the creativity to paint and express beauty and let go of hanging on.

Later I tell her the image. She “sees” it, her eyes open wide. “Yes!” she says and falls asleep.


  1. I am in awe. Of God, of life, of you, of the story, of my own future with my own mother - just awe.

  2. This is so beautifully written, Marsha. Thank you for sharing

  3. So beautiful. Brought back memories of time with my own mother.

  4. Simply lovely, my friend. Beautiful words about such a beautiful moment.

  5. What a powerful connection the two of you share. It's beautiful. Thank you for sharing...

  6. Beautiful Marcia. You are all in our thoughts and prayers.

  7. Bittersweet tears warm my face with your gentle yet powerful words...'hanging on and letting go'...I don't know who will wrestle with it more...lyrical and beautiful. Thank you Marcia!

  8. A beautiful tribute to your mother, Marcia. What you describe reminds me so much of my dad's final three years on this earth. Spending time with Dad became bittersweet. He was still ours but soon would not be. As the cancer wove its fingers around and through his body and his brain, more and more of dad slipped away from us. Until finally, at age 63, he entered into Glory Land. I pray for peace for you, your mother, sister and family, Marcia.

  9. I held my Dad's huge hand on Wed. morning and watched as he took a breathe, another, and then the last. He "saw" the other side at the last moments, calling out to our brother who died last year. As we go to place his shell in the earth today, I think of him as whole, complete, joyful and re-born in God's Kingdom. Peace to you and joy as your Mom enters the same rest.

  10. Thank you Glynda. What an honor to be present when your dad died. I share in your loss and rejoice in the confidence you have in his place in glory.

  11. Letting go is hard. We don't want to live without our loved one in our life. Yet, how can we begrudge them life with God for eternity? You have beautifully described the transformation we can all hope to obtain, shucking this earthly shell for our eternal, glorified body. My prayers are with you,your sister and your mother.


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