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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Beginning and End (04/16/09)

TITLE: The Cycle of Life
By Joy Bach


As I worked in the yard, clearing away the debris from the winter, I suddenly discovered a new little shoot pushing its way up through the earth. That new little plant did not care that it had been covered by snow and ice. The dead leaves and dropped flower petals had no bearing on the process taking place under the ground. On my knees in the yard, the cycle of life was clearly visible to me.

As I continued to work, raking away the remnants of the winter, my mind flew back to 1986 when that cycle had been so clearly demonstrated in my own life.

In the springtime of that year, I was told I would be having my first grandchild in the fall. I looked forward to the new birth. I love babies.

In July my husband and I moved from Idaho to the state of Washington…to begin a new business. His mind was focused on the daily needs of getting a business started. I was seeking employment…temporarily working four part-time jobs to make ends meet.

We had been at our new location two weeks, when his 16-year old daughter decided to come live with us. Since we had been “empty nesters” for awhile, we had some adjusting to do.

A few days after her arrival, I received word via my brother that our mother was having difficulty with a sore on her leg. Unbeknownst to us, she had been struggling for months with it. Apparently, she had waited until it was open to the bone before letting anyone know, and she was in a great deal of pain.

She sought medical help. But the situation only worsened.

In August, I received a phone call that my daughter had gone into premature labor. The situation became critical and late that night they performed a C-section, delivering a very tiny little girl. Weighing only two pounds eleven ounces and measuring twelve inches long, Rebecca began the fight for her life.

She was born on August 5th, one day before my mother’s 89th birthday.

Mother’s leg developed gangrene.

Rebecca remained in the neo-natal unit in a hospital in Canada. My mother was hospitalized in Kansas. And my previous place of employment in Idaho requested I come back for the month of October to fill in while my replacement took maternity leave.

My thoughts constantly bounced back and forth between the struggling new life in Canada and the faltering elderly one in Kansas. Such an emotional tug of war. I wanted to be with my husband, with my new granddaughter and be supportive of my mother. Since we needed the income, I remained loyal to my employer.

As October wore on, gradually the reports from Canada became more encouraging…and the ones from Kansas were not.

Mother’s leg would have to be amputated.

One of my brothers traveled to be at her bedside. She came through the surgery with flying colors. Plans were put in place to release her from the hospital ahead of schedule. And then came the day the doctor spoke with her about going to rehab to learn how to live with only one leg.

Apparently she didn’t want to do that. Within the space of 24 hours, she had declined to the point that the doctor told my brother to call his siblings. His words were, “Your mother is shutting herself down. I need to know if you want to put her on life support.”

And so the calls were made. We all agreed that if she was shutting herself down, we didn’t want to prolong it.

At 3:00 a.m. the next morning I awoke with a crystal clear mind. And I knew she was gone. I received the verifying phone call from my sister at 8:00 a.m.

And so our mother was laid to rest.

Rebecca’s strong spirit had kept her alive and she continued to improve. After 117 days in the hospital, she was dismissed to begin her life in the world.

Every day, all over the world, this cycle of life continues. Somewhere, at this moment, someone is dying. And in another place, there is a new birth.

And so I continue to work in my yard. Each day I discard the debris from the winter. And each day I discover another new little shoot pushing up through the ground.

For me, today, I am somewhere between the new birth and the decaying. This is my moment to live.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Connie Dixon04/23/09
This was really great writing. I loved how you paralleled your mother and grandaughter with the spring growth in your garden. So deep, yet so simple, just like your title. Wonderful!
Margaret Gass04/23/09
I love your last line--somewhere between new birth and decaying describes us all, but your resolve to live in that place is a powerful thing, just like this entry. Well done.