I remember when my mother was dying. I was getting ready for my orals in graduate school and the one thing I couldn’t have imagined, since all mothers are invincible, is that my healthy, vivacious, 83-year-old, artist mother would die.
Time stood still as the nurse put me through to her hospital room.
Only, the woman who answered the phone was not my mother. I apologized and hung up. I redialed the nurses’ station (she was in Oregon, I was in Massachusetts) and said I’d been given the wrong room.
Again, the stranger answered. I apologized for bothering her a second time. As the woman responded, a word here or there had a whiff of familiarity.
Mother? I asked, bewildered.
Yes, darling, the stranger responded. And the faint lilt of darling pried loose an ancient sound memory.
I knew the woman who answered did not have my mother’s voice – that sound more familiar to our deepest self than the throb of our own heartbeat.
The woman who answered was not my mother because she didn’t sound like my mother. It wasn’t until this woman said, “darling” with a slight, familiar almost-completely-gone Southern twang that it hit me.
This was my mother; only her voice was the voice of a dying woman. I had no idea, of course, what a dying woman sounded like. Except I did.
It took a lot of arguing with the nurse (Oh, no, dear, of course your mother isn’t dying!) and the doctor in charge (No, your mother isn’t dying.), before, he broke down and admitted that, yes, her organs were shutting down, and yes, she was very likely dying.
The grief was uncontrollable. It overtook me as I stood in line at the bank. It swept me out to sea when I went out to collect the mail. It engulfed me as I fell into sleep.
If I had any idea, or access to Dr. Guillermo Cuellar’s smARTist Presentation, How to Keep Grief, Illness, and Loss from Derailing Your Art, I could have navigated my grief with more grace and ease.
Remember, keeping your creative resilience strong in the face of loss is paramount in these anxious times,
Your Truth. Your Power. Your Word. Claim it!
P.S. Dr. Cuellar is both a remarkable psychotherapist and visual artist who offers a safe, effective, roadmap to help you process any grief, illness or loss that enters your life. Read more…
P.S.S. If you found this post helpful, I’d be thrilled if you’d pass the link along to someone else you think would benefit.