Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
--Gerard Manley Hopkins

I visited a parishioner this morning. She told me that she is ready; that she is tired; that she doesn't want to spend the rest of her life in the hospital. I cried and we prayed that God would do what was right. (I asked if the mother had talked with her children about this and she said no). Then I went to a funeral for a parishioner's mother. Then I came home and the volunteer receptionist at the church called to say that the first parishioner's daughter called and said that her mother "had given up" and would I talk with her. I wasn't sure whether the mother or the daughter. I have left a message for the daughter to call me. I don't know the daughter. I don't know whether it is appropriate for the mother to give up. I don't know what her prognosis is; whether they will get the medicine right.

I am supposed to be packing to go to Cleveland tomorrow to see my oncologist. It is raining and raining and raining. It is dark and dreary.

I read a quote on Sunday to the effect that the problem with man is not that he is finite but that man doesn't believe that he is finite. I don't think it is quite the same idea as Hopkins. We are finite, mortal like leaves of grass, we wither and die (a misquote from Isaiah last Sunday and I think from Ecclesiates not that I can spell). We die, those we love die, people we have never met die.

9 comments:

cheesehead said...

((((JC)))))

Magdalene6127 said...

This is the place from which we all start, and to which we all return. Odd, though: is there a kind of freedom in it? A freedom for grace to enter in, when we really get that this is the human condition?

Praying with you on this cold (rainy for you, snowy for me) afternoon.

Gannet Girl said...

Grace or not (and who knows?), the inevitable and endless dying can seem only bleak.

Gannet Girl said...

If you are still going to be in town on Thurs and you want to, email me at gannetgirlatsbcglobaldotnet.

Songbird said...

Oh, jc, I feel lonely for her, though I know it's sometimes meds or wrong meds talking when an older person feels defeated in the hospital. Wish I could make the trip with you--I hope that doesn't sound weird coming from someone you've never met, but I wish I could.

Joan Calvin said...

Thanks to all of you. I feel really comfortable with where the parishioner is. I can understand the tiredness of not feeling better, being stuck in bed, not seeing an end. I am not a believer that attitude is everything. It is something, but not everything. I am most concerned about the daughter and whether she wants her mother to live at any price to her mother. So many people are not ready to give up a loved one when the time comes. But it comes for all of us. I would like to help the daughter be able to listen to her mother and if it is time, to help ease her transition from this world to the next. Songbird, someday we will know each other in person. Gannetgirl, I'm sending an email your way.

Gannet Girl said...

One of my saddest experiences this past summer at CPE occurred when an adult daughter told me that her parent had "given up." With a body as ravaged as that individual's and words whispered to me one one day when the ventilator had been briefly and temporarily, as it turned out, removed, "Get me to beach," what I saw bore no resemblance to "giving up." But conveying that to the family was another story.

It took the family another week to come to terms with what was going on, call in hospice, and depart the hospital. I saw the obituary two days later in the paper and felt that I had failed that person rather profoundly.

tm@gw said...

This morning I am commemorating the three-year anniversary of my mother's death. I stumbled across this blog after a web search for the text of the Hopkins poem. The words Joan wrote, copied below, were very comforting as I was the one who eased my own mother's transition. I didn't understand what was happening and had no idea she would be leaving after just four months under my care. I have many regrets; hindsight indeed is 20/20. She was, however, at peace and loved. I miss her dearly.



Joan wrote:
I can understand the tiredness of not feeling better, being stuck in bed, not seeing an end. I am not a believer that attitude is everything. It is something, but not everything. I am most concerned about the daughter and whether she wants her mother to live at any price to her mother. So many people are not ready to give up a loved one when the time comes. But it comes for all of us. I would like to help the daughter be able to listen to her mother and if it is time, to help ease her transition from this world to the next.

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