blog description

Old women talk about old things: history, myth, magic and their
checkered pasts, about what changes and what does not.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Life ~ Death

This is a story-poem by Jen Marsh, who has been primary caregiver for the last five years to her mother, now sliding ever deeper into dementia. 

Jen's powerful meditation is perfect for the original intent of the founding mothers of Cronehenge, who now find themselves looking back as much as looking forward. Several of us have already taken this challenging mother-daughter journey. 

We have already attended upon the first two Fates, Urd and Verdandi. Now, we who are Crones move into the presence of Skuld, where begins our final unwinding.

Are life and death the same?
Is one more precious than the other?
My mom has dementia.
I have been supporting her care on a daily basis
For over 5 years.
Witnessing her reversal.
I cannot use the word death here
Because what I have been taught about death
Just doesn't seem to fit.

One of my greatest pains in life
Has been my inability to conceive a child,
My inability to create and bring forth another life.
My life seems to have been focused 
More on what most would consider
The opposite of birth or life.
With so many of my animal friends
I have been the main one supporting
Their end of life needs.
To truly be there
Connected and engaged
All the way to the point of death,
I cannot describe it as anything but
The most beautiful
And the most painful
Experience in my life thus far.
In that moment of letting go
Death became a birth.

As I scroll through my Facebook feed
I am aware of a change in my habits.
I used to skip all of the posts
About mothers sharing their experiences.
Honestly it was too painful
To read about motherhood,
Something I will never experience.
Now I am drawn to these posts.
As my mother is reverse learning
Many of these "motherhood" experiences
That I am reading about,
I am experiencing with my mother.
Battles with not wanting to bathe or shower.
The slow process of not using a fork.
Worrying about what can be swallowed safely.
The reverse potty training.
So much of what these mothers are talking about
Are things I am experiencing in reverse.

When my dear canine friend Zaboo died,
The last moments felt like a birth
Into something unknown.
A letting go.
A moving on.
And I was the midwife
Encouraging the process.

I am approaching this moment
With my mom
The slow reversal of learning
The slow process of forgetting
All life supporting processes.
And, there are no set guidelines
For the unlearning,
For the forgetting.
By age 9?
She should forget how to walk.
By age 9?  
She should forget how to use the toilet.
By age 9?
She should forget how to swallow.

Experiencing this reversal
Has encouraged me to look at death
With new eyes, from a new perspective,
One very different from what I was taught.
The difference between life and death
Is becoming very unclear to me.
Am I witnessing
An approach to an end
Or an approach to a beginning?

~~Jen Marsh