Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Question (05/24/12)
TITLE: What is Enough?
By Cheryl von Drehle
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Yes, I suspended everything in my life on an hour’s notice to fly 3000 miles to her bedside. And yes, I sat at my mother’s bedside for three weeks. I listened to her, offered what comfort I could, and refrained from expressing judgment. I did not listen closely enough; I do not believe the comfort was received; I wonder if she saw occasional judgment in my heart.
We talked extensively, but I did not ask the right questions. We looked at pictures to revisit memories, but we did not look inward to share how we felt about the past…and the present…and the future. I read aloud to her, but not the words of Scripture that I longed to read to her. We did not unwrap regrets, hurts, silences, misunderstandings, differences. She took all those secrets to her grave, leaving me to wonder if I had done enough and done it right.
Accompanying the bedside vigil was an enormous pressure to empty my mother’s apartment in three days. I expended hours of energy and emotion cleaning out years of accumulated physical “stuff.” The demanding timeframe provided no opportunity to examine the accumulation of emotional stuff. I discovered scores of oddities – squirreled away unused napkins, “borrowed” silverware, and triplicates of unneeded purchases. But there was no easy way to ask my mother “why?”
Four months later I wonder what overlooked family treasure or explanatory trinket I unwittingly assigned to the garbage or the goodwill or the resale shop. Are the answers I so desire now buried in landfill or sitting on someone else’s bookshelf?
As a child, and an adult child, I was never able to “do enough,” or “be enough,” for my mother. In the end I believe I did what I could for her. I think it was enough and right for her. I’m not sure it was for me.
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