One of the joys about the impending death of a loved one is the seething undercurrent of anger that dogs you morning, noon, and night. You know in the depths of your soul that nothing will ever be the same again. You realize that the last normal moment of your life has already passed without notice or ceremony. The you that existed without the awful certainty of death tainting everything is somewhere in your past and every second carries that self farther and farther away.
Going to see my mother this weekend is simply awful. I do not want to go, as if by refusing to see her I can force her to be okay. Going means coming back here, and that of course means saying goodbye. How many times have I said goodbye to my mom in this lifetime? Hundreds, thousands? All of those instances are insignificant, almost meaningless in light of the one fast approaching on Sunday.
I am going to Illinois this weekend in order to say goodbye. To act with the knowledge that, while she may live another month or three, the end of her life has arrived. There will come a day in the coming weeks when the phone will ring and that part of me that senses the near future will recoil, and I will know that her time has come. Maybe the call will be to say I need to come right now. Maybe the call will be to say she has died.
All the metaphysical knowledge in the world, all the faith of what life and death are really about, all the belief in the eternal nature of our essences is meaningless when faced with the little boy inside of me who only knows that his sister died and went away. That his protector, champion, best friend, and wife to his adult self died and went away. And now his mother is dying and will go away too.
Everyone I love dies and goes away.