Friday, July 10, 2009

Lessons from an empty room

Pin It An artist paints with colors. A photographer captures images with light. A writer portrays thoughts to form with words which he feels and sees.

I sit.

I sit alone in Mom’s room.

I keep waiting for the feeling; waiting to feel her ghost—her spirit.

As I look into the vacant space where her bed used to lay, I feel the emptiness which has taken its place. It is this same void which fills me, this type of nullity which has been left behind that nobody else can understand—at least so it would strike as being.

My dad and I canvassed the room earlier today for mom’s framed pieces, tucked away in shadowed corners, several of which she created—cross-stitchings which she fashioned long ago during cozy nights with the aroma of scented candles burning in mixtures of amber and vanilla. As I gazed at these works wrought at her hands I felt that a piece of her yet remained, though her essence had gone; fled away to some far-away and distant place where the rest of us could not follow.

The sunlight dances on the other side of the window as my eyes fall on one of the stitcheries Mom made years before; its words burn themselves into my retina like an after-image of staring at the sun:


As I read over this quote I think of Mom’s crimson nails, filed and painted to perfection—a simple yet sublime act of love.

I remember sitting at the table.

It was a difficult time yet again; Mom’s breathing came in belabored gasps and haphazard moments of coherentness. My two younger sisters and brother-in-law had come to help; we were all taking shifts with sitting with Mom. This was good as it was keeping anyone from getting completely burned out.

I remember being slumped at the dining room table, resting my head on one arm when my dad made the pronouncement; he was going to have Mom’s manicurist come out to the house.

He fumbled with his phone and dialed the number. He spoke with the woman on the other end and set up the paltry details. He wanted the works—and price was no option.

Only the best.

I remember at first wondering what he was doing. Just why was he going to do this? Mom was in such a sick and weakened condition, what difference would this really make?

I had no idea.

The manicurist arrived. When Mom was told she was to have her nails done, her frail fingers outstretched—it was a sight to bring tears to one’s eyes. The job—no small one to be sure—took in the zone of 4 ½ hours to complete.

My dad had arranged this out of pure, simple love.

Mom knew. It completely exhausted her. She couldn’t speak, but she knew.

For the next several days, every time I saw Mom’s fingers or her carefully-painted toes, I found myself smiling. This was not merely a manicure and pedicure; this was an act of adoration of a man for the woman he treasured—the woman he knew delighted in this—the woman who was slowly ebbing away. He was giving her something which she couldn’t do for herself, something she loved; something which made her feel beautiful and appreciated.

Affection.

The sunlight shifts and I find myself back in my Mom’s empty room. Though I find tears aplenty as I sit here alone, I discover that the room is no longer empty; it is filled with lessons, lessons of the heart and memories of love.

It is true…time truly cannot erase the memories which are created by love.

20 comments:

hintonrae said...

Love the way you build up to your point in this post, Jason, with lovely, evocative imagery (and images).

The act of having your mother's nails painted is such a powerful one, because it shows such a deep level of understanding that your father had of her. Something so apparently trivial, and yet so significant to her--he knew it would mean the world--knew what it would represent. Good man.

Kris said...

That my dear is TRUE adoration! He always was the big lovable bear. I hadn't cried for him until now. In these words of true love. I hope I am loved as much. They will be such a loving couple FOREVER! And by the way, she is always there with you.

Corine said...

I am at a loss for words... all I can do is cry. What a beautiful act of love and adoration.

Thank you so much for sharing this!!!

K.J. said...

This was beautiful, and I loved reaading it. What your dad did for your mom was very precious.
This message is sent with a big hug...

Linn said...

That is truly one of the sweetest things I have ever read. I am crying. Thank you for sharing.

Mitchell Family said...

So sorry to hear about your mom. I keep thinking about the thestrals in Harry Potter. You know the flying horses you can't see until you've seen death. There's a deep truth in that image. Since my mom died I see so much beauty that somehow I missed before. I would have never imagined that losing a loved one would have so many sweet moments and small miracles. Thanks for sharing yours.

Emily said...

Love you Jas. <3

Danielle said...

Your dad is so amazing. That is really so sweet. I'm so sorry to all of you and we're praying for you guys. We love you.

jayniemoon said...

Thanks so much for sharing such a love story.

Anonymous said...

Your tribute is absolutely beautiful!

Gerb said...

What a beautiful story of love, beautifully told.

Laura said...

What a great love and so sweetly told, I can't stop crying.

SO said...

Beautiful. Truly beautiful.

SHELLS BELLS! said...

Jason-
You are not only a gifted photographer, but also a writer. Thanks for your beautiful words and tribute to your mom.

Shelley

Anonymous said...

That was the most amazing gift.

Ash

Valerie said...

So beautiful, Jason. So sorry for your loss.

annette said...

The flowers in the window seem to say it all.

andrea said...

beautiful. im so sorry for your loss. i lost my mom a few years ago and i remember spending the last few hours with her, by her side. i only wish i could express that moment as beautiful as you did. you are a beautiful person and im sure its because you had a beautiful mom.

Shannon said...

I am here, now. I didn't want to come here. I read your post concerning your student's funeral, and I noticed the link to this post...and I refused. "I won't read it," I told myself...."I can't." For some reason, here I am. My mother and I are extremely close - almost too much so, if that is possible. The longest time we have ever been apart in my 39 years was three weeks. I have no idea how I will react to her passing one day...but now...now I know what to look back on...what to remember...what to hold dear in order to help me along. Thank You.

Jason, as himself said...

I am so glad you sent me the link to these posts. I didn't know about your blog when all of this happened. Your writing is moving and thoughtful, particularly this post.

I'm sorry. It is so devastating.

My mom has been gone for 14 years now. It is still devastating.

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