Sunday, May 23, 2010

holy obligation

it was somewhere in the midst of the torrent of tears and her forehead pressed to the table, somewhere in the span of time where i knelt on the floor at her side, stroking her back, her legs, kissing her hand, that it occurred to me, this is what holy obligation means. it means to bear witness to and shower compassion on the spilling over of the sorrows of the soul, especially, right now, the sorrows of the beautiful mind dimming in the light of longer days.

she had forgotten she no longer drives. as we ate the dinner i brought over and talked of her life in germany, and what she was going to do the next day, she realized, as if for the very first time, her car keys were missing. and so it began. fresh pain, fresh anguish, fresh fear of being trapped and made useless, and an hour and a half of broken record ranting. at a point where my knees began to ache, the crux was reached and the singular not-to-be-repeated sentence squeaked out of her mouth, "nobody loves me anymore".

at that point, i rose. she continued to sob with her head on her arms. i kissed her forehead. i cleared the plates. i found post-it notes and i began to write. for her nightstand, i wrote, "i love you, oma". i wrote the same for her refrigerator door. for the door to her tv room and the bottom of her kitchen calendar i wrote the date and time i was there and what we did together.

i knelt some more and talked to her and slowly, the storm passed. we agreed we loved each other. but for the first time ever, she did not stand at the door to wave as i drove away.

from what i am told, the next day was one of her happiest in a very long time. when a neighbor, who saw my car in the driveway the day before, inquired about me to my oma, the reply came, "she is a good girl". but whether my oma recognized me or understood a word i said to her in her anguish, at this point, does not matter. what matters is giving honor to all she has meant to me. what matters is giving her a witness. what matters is showing love, no matter what. this is my obligation. and i consider it holy.

{photo~ a shelf in my oma's kitchen, may 2010}


  1. Thank you for sharing this very personal, very powerful thing. My thoughts are with you...

  2. Oh, tears in my eyes, ache in my heart...what a wonderful idea you had, to at least brighten her day, even if she may not remember it later. It may be an obligation, it may be holy, but you did it with love. Pure, sweet, golden love. And that is what matters. Truly.

  3. Dearling Graciel, you've got me into tears. What a beautiful tribute to your oma.
    I know she knows...deep deep very deep inside it's still there. Thank you for sharing your sorrow and grieve and pain and even already some loss.

    I love to see her German cooking books.
    Warmest dearest hugs ever.

  4. Anonymous5/24/2010

    what a beautiful tribute.

  5. Anonymous5/24/2010

    This is utterly beautiful. I, too, have tears welling up.

    Bless you, dear Kindred, for being such an incredible soul as to BE with your Oma in this way during this time.

    Your courage and presence are truly inspirational.

    I echo Dagmar...

    {{"warmest, dearest hugs ever"}}

  6. I read this last night and couldn't comment. I was just too moved for words. As everyone said, this is a beautiful tribute to the special relationship you have with your Oma. It's also a perfect example of true LOVE. Love in it's purest and most selfless form. It is beautiful to behold. You have an amazing soul.

    I know this time is very very hard but I hope you are able to find a way to cherish it. Or at least cherish the extra moments you have. I lost my Grandma just two months after my wedding. Suddenly without warning she was just gone forever. I still find it hard to deal with, especially now that I have Nora and have so much I wish I could share with her. She was the rock of our family and the deepest soulmate I've ever had. I'd give anything to have an extra day with her. However you lose a loved one it's impossibly hard. I know you will make the most of this precious time and help your Oma move into her twilight surrounded by love.

    You are in my prayers.


  7. This gave me chills - they rose on my arms and legs as I read this. And nothing to say to make this better, it is what it is and you do what you can, and what perfect instincts you have, dear Graciel. Perfect.

    You are right - this is sacred, this is holy, this is a gift you are given though it may not feel that way now. My heart is full for you and this time I will be the bird at your window. I'll be in blue, and will stay silent, but once in a while, you will hear a song and that will be me.


  8. really, the kindest people come to visit my blog. i appreciate all these helpful words.

    i am going to do my part and my best to honor each stage of life. she deserves nothing less than my love and patience. i hope we each have loving kindness bestowed upon us as we perhaps begin to lose our way.

    debi~ thank you, bluebird. xoxo

  9. Heart wrenchingly beautiful...and inspiring.

  10. Really, really touched me. Thanks for sharing this with me. Does she still speak German? Do you think it would comfort her?


I always appreciate the time you take to comment on my blog. Thank you for stopping by. Peace from my heart to yours. xo, Graciel