Siblings gather over the Christmas holiday. I stay at my parents’ house with sisters who have come from out-of-town, pretending that I, too, am an out-of-town sister. It is a sacred time of togetherness, one we will never get back in the same way, again.
Mom pulls each of her children aside to pass the jewelry she has selected for them. Her jewels and gems are thoughtfully divided. Costume jewelry is left to be sorted through, pieces that are meaningful selected by those who care to have them.
Daughters help sort through purses and drawers, clipping hair barrettes to their hair and stringing necklaces around their necks. Each day is a grand day to play dress-up. I wonder if Mom notices I am wearing something from her closet.
I apologize for not asking first. It is understood that there is no need to apologize. We have Mom’s undivided attention, and she laughs and plays with us, and it is so bittersweet.
We bring papers and objects and articles of clothing to her, and she tells us what to do with them. The sorting, organizing, and purging is a collective effort. We notice and name how each of is both similar to and different from Mom and Dad. We bless and honor our unique blends of each.
It is mostly a giant Memory game ~ putting like with like, moving things around, asking questions. Remembering.
We write down pearls of wisdom Mom speaks and remind her it is not time for her to leave us until she has done the very last thing on the list. We laugh deeply and cry until no more tears come and love fiercely. This good woman, our mother, our human mother lives each day with us to the fullest.
We sing, voices blending as only sibling voices do, and Mom notes the depth, richness, and beauty of our sound. Your voices are growing stronger.
The week goes too fast, precious time never to return, and from the depths of my soul I am grateful for a mom who, even as she is dying, is making room to live.