I was re-reading The Summer of the Great Grandmother yesterday, and the line jumped out at me, "Only death can give my mother back to me." It's true. The memory of her last few months, when she was really gone from me, are starting to blur a little. It's leaving, bit by bit, although I don't think I'll ever forget holding her hand, fighting to get the oxygen back on, the sound of her low moaning after she was pretty much catatonic but was in pain. The way she looked when she was taken to the hospital the first time, severely dehydrated but responsive. She looked almost as much like death as when she had actually died. The colour went out of her eyes.
But I am starting to assemble her back together in my head, the story of her, with more detachment and compassion and affection than before. And the parts that were before her crisis are surfacing in my memory. In The Telling, by Le Guin, one character says to another, "death begins the Telling of our life.", and another, earlier, "The grave... where it begins."
I love that book- it's one of the ones I've read aloud to Geoff. I like what she says about how we need the stories to hold us together. The story is how we know who and what we are. And that makes sense to me, because God is the Word, and words are meant to be spoken, and we people exist in relationship and in story because we are made in that image. And so my mother is, in my head and in my prayers, coming together in a wholeness that is no longer temporal and linear. And I hope that she, and the story of her, are being made whole.