Saturday, May 30, 2009

"Thoughts from today"

(from an email sent May 21, 2009 12:12AM)
This whole week has been pretty whirl-wind. Now I m in bed, but I can't sleep. Harvard students are talking loudly hanging on the stoop of their dorms across the narrow street just below my open window. Other voices and traffic from Harvard street, and echoing between the buildings from Mass Ave also keep me awake. The voices sound familiar. Some sound just like my sisters. I'm in a strange, delirious, in-between state. I feel that, when I close my eyes and try to sleep, my consciousness merges with my mother's and all the guardian spirits around her.

She gave indication, actually SAID today, that she does not want the plug pulled, she wants to live! She told me that she will not be staying there (at the hospital) but will soon be going to rehab. Yesterday, talking with the doctors, we all remembered her having told us her wish of DNR, do not ressussitate. Now, I can surplant that with this new memory- and that makes me happy. Yet, the reality is still that she is in the stage when her brain is swelling, after such a massive stroke. The doctors are trying to paint a 'realistic' picture for my sisters and I. They refer to half her brain, the left half, as "dead". Obviously, it must not have been the half of her brain that she likes to use because, although severely physically handicapped at this time, she is incredibly coherent, lucid, and opinionated. Even funny. For example, my sister Kathy was in the hospital room's closet on the phone because it's quiet and secluded. Mom kept asking if Kathy was still in the closet. Finally she asked, "Is she locked in there?" We said "No." so mom asked, "Why not?"
Meanwhile, we still have a couple days during which we should expect for it to get worse before better. She's completely paralysed on the right side, has trouble speaking (though she wants to!), is exhausted, can't swallow well.... but is hanging in there. We always knew she was sharp as a tack, but now the doctors confirm, with CAT scans and MRI-s the positive and negative of that. Her brain is much younger than the norm, it has suffered little, if any, of the normal atrophy that happens with aging. Unfortunately, that doesn't leave much room in the skull for the brain to swell, as expected in the process of recovering from a stroke. Funny, huh?
Anyway, I feel better telling you all this.

Also, since I can't sleep, an issue that I have been wrestling with for the past couple days, now, seems to be clarifying. I share it, here, with you. It needs to be edited...

"We have to choose to be willing to go through new and strange and difficult experiences, facing to become new and strange, and maybe difficult, at least different, people.
We have to choose to become these new and different people, different by going through these transitions, these transitory experiences.
and those transitions not always are leading us through death... often they are leading us through life... a life that comes through a process- through death.
then we emerge as new people, who then make different, new choices.
In this situation of deciding –interpreting that a person has made a choice to continue as that same person rather than choosing not to transition and change, i.e. to stay the same person– is deciding that the person has decided to not make a choice... has decided that that other person is already dead, and unchanging. Life is change. Life is the process of life and death, of moving forward. To say a person only wants to continue as the person it has already been, is already death, is already condemning that other person to death. When we take away the opportunity to allow a person a choice to change, that is a condemnation to death. ..."

It feels funny to have this emerge from inside myself, because it is totally different from my prior opinion, which now to me looks like "Life doesn't matter, because life and death are all one."
Now I see them as all one, but in a totally different way: the value and beauty of death, comes after the value of the beauty (and struggle) of life.

I can't tell if those voices are my sisters, and maybe it doesn't matter, does it? What is sister / non-sister anyway?


  1. I love you Anna.

    This was one incredible post that I will have to re-read several times. I think we all are having similar feelings about life and death and changes. My sleep has been affected too, although I didn't have to sleep next to an open window on Harvard Street.

  2. The struggle is allowing a part of you to die so you may emerge in new life. This happens all the time, although not as drastic as we are all experiencing now. Life is a string of changes in us, as well as, the effects of changes in others.
    We love you.

  3. What a wonderful concept. I am sorry for only pointing out one part. Sister/Non-sister portion. Since I don't have a sister I consider my close friends my sisters.
    Your relationship is an amazing mirror of your mom. I feel privilaged to know your family as little as I do, she has blessed me as you have.
    Hugs....and tears...