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Archive for April 13th, 2012

This is another post in a series, about a woman named Amara. Every Friday I will post another segment in this story.

As Amara stirred, Joy rushed to her side.

“Joy … ,” Amara was struggling to talk.

“Yes mother?” Joy felt tears coming to her eyes. Was it her mother’s voice, or what she had just read on Joe’s phone?

“Joy … ”

“Mother, I am here”

“Don’t cry Joy, please … don’t cry.”

Joy was startled by her mothers words, because she had not realized that her face was wet with falling tears. Amara’s eyes were not even open, how did she know that Joy was crying?

“Mother, I am here. Oh mom, I need you right now,” Joy sobbed, and lay onto her mother’s bed with her.

Amara reached her hand towards Joy’s head, and held on to the crown of her head, like she used to do when Joy was a young child, and needed comfort.

It was not a familiar thing for Amara to be offering comfort to Joy. Oh, when she was a little girl, and had all the scrapes and bruises of childhood. But as a teen and an adult, Joy did not need comfort from anyone.

Amara could remember vividly the last time that she and Joy were in each others arms. It was a time when Joy needed her mother so very much, and Amara had nothing left to give. Amara had carried the guilt of that failure with her all these years. It made her so aware that one moment of weakness on her part could change the course of her relationship with her daughter.

Jacob had been ill for so long. If Amara wasn’t with Jacob, it was only because the hospital staff had sent her home to sleep in her own bed for a night. It had been a two year existence of doctor appointments, prescriptions, hospitals and tests. It had been almost two years of her husband, John, working two jobs to pay for all of the medical bills. It had been over a year of Joy living more with her grandparents than with her parents.

Amara had missed Joy so much, but there just was no other choice, and she was so thankful for her parents for giving Joy all that she needed, during those years when Amara’s attention was almost exclusively devoted to Jacob.

In the beginning, when Jacob was first undergoing tests, Amara had to deal with so much guilt. She had been so excited when Joy arrived, that she really only had eyes for her. Jacob had gotten pushed to the side, in Amara’s delight over her new baby girl. But Jacob did not seem to mind. He was just starting grade one when Joy was born, and he had new adventures in his days, that did not include his mother anyway.

Jacob had been such a pleasant, easy going little boy, and his pride in his baby sister was almost as intense as his mother’s. He would sit by her bassinet and just watch her sleep, or sing to her as she bounced in her Jolly Jumper. He was as enamored with her as Amara.

Then he got sick, very sick. And the doctor’s didn’t know what was wrong. By the time they diagnosed nine year old Jacob, with Leukemia it had gone too far. Oh, they tried everything they could think of, from treatments, to surgeries, to medications. It was just all too late.

There had been so much loss, in such a short time. Only a month after Jacob’s funeral, Amara’s father, the strongest man she could imagine, had a major heart attack, and died as well. Amara was not sure she could keep going. She felt pulled between the grief of her son’s illness and death, the shocking loss of her father, and the need to help her mother, as she dealt with her own grief.

Amara was barely surviving, and her care of little Joy became mechanical, impersonal. Joy was not quite five, and she too had experienced immense loss. She lost her big brother, her grandfather who had doted on her as though she was royalty, and now her Gamma, who she loved like a mother, was in such a deep place of grieving. In the midst of all of that loss, was the reality that she had also lost her mother in the process.

Then, only a few months later Amara’s mother died too. The doctors had said it was a massive stroke that took her life, immediately, but Amara knew that it was a lonely and broken heart, that simply refused to keep beating with the love of her life gone.

Amara was at her weakest, most vulnerable point in her life. She survived, physically, but life was snuffed out of her soul.

In just a few months Joy went from being in the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’ (Disneyworld), with her dear grandparents, to living in a dark, cave-like place and existence, with a mother who was unable to care for herself, let alone a five year old girl. She became the caregiver of her mother. The roles of mother and daughter flipped, and little Joy lost her understanding of childhood, as she began to mother her mother.

There was little that Amara remembered about that time in her life. One event stood out, as a great regret. Amara was sitting in the front row of the church, as the funeral service for her mother progressed. It had been an open casket funeral, as had been common at that time. When the time came for the casket to be closed, Joy jumped up onto her mother’s lap, threw her arms around her mother’s neck, and sobbed onto her mother’s shoulder. Joy had not sought out affection from her mother for months, while Jacob was ill, and she had the doting affections of her grandparents. But when the cover came down on the body of her grandmother, it was as though Joy was aware that the door on that phase of her young life was also closing.

As Joy sobbed and held on to her mother’s neck, Amara could not muster any affection for her daughter. She found breathing to be a laborious event, in itself. Amara had nothing left to give to her child.

Eventually Joy was pried from her mother, by her father’s eager arms. He held her, and comforted her.

And Joy never sought comfort from her mother again.

Amara always wished she could have found the strength to say, “don’t cry Joy, please … don’t cry.”

Unfading – Part 1

Unfading – Part 16

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