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in the late afternoon

by Judy
August 18, 2014

In the late afternoon when the light is softening and the sun is saying its final goodbyes, I am lying on the big bed next to my mom while she sleeps, dreams or quietly thinks. And as I work on my I pad lazily going in all directions of interest, I notice how very peaceful it is. This is actually my experience almost every afternoon. What is going on? It’s like when a lot of the activity of the day is over - activity of eating, washing, doing chores – all that is finished - and now Mom and I can just be together…hang out. Mom knows I am here if she needs anything. Often she doesn’t speak very much, but she still knows I am here - she is safe and can relax.

This is different than when nighttime falls. Then there is another landscape. I am not sure why but somehow nighttime has less peace, perhaps because in the midst of sleeping, there is also the potential for agitation and unrest.

During the day there are all sorts of moments: sometimes sweet, fun exchanges; conversations of telling Mom stories and filling her in on the news. She does a lot of the listening these days. Other times it can be excruciating when my mother has to go to the bathroom and it’s so hard for her. She sometimes cries and only when back in bed again is she fine. There are other times when we are coaxing her to eat, giving her food that she usually likes, but may not like today and trying to figure out what else to give her. Many moments – many details to attend to – some lovely moments and some that are difficult.

But all that is finished in the late afternoon. Mom has had her dinner and changed into her nighttime gear. Pat (her wonderful professional caregiver) is having her dinner and some quiet time for herself before taking a shower. And now I fill up the room with my mom. Sometimes I will get into bed with her but often I just hang out on the big bed next to her hospital bed. It’s a time for quiet communion. 

Every now and then I ask her how she is and if she needs anything. Usually she doesn’t, but I like to ask which also reminds her that I am there. This afternoon, in the midst of writing this essay, and telling her that Lauren Bacall had died and about Robin Williams, she said to me, “I love having you around.” I told her I felt the same way. It’s like we are both humming the same melodious tune.

I take great pleasure when my mom is at rest - it doesn’t mean she’s sleeping, but I can tell by her face and her breathing, as I glance over to her periodically, that she is content.

As a caregiver I think it’s important to find these quiet but treasured moments when the goings and comings stop and there is an oasis of peace.

And I think as well that everyone (not just caregivers) need to have these moments when the world seems to stop. And it doesn’t have to happen on a meditation cushion. It can happen at any time and anywhere. For some it may be at certain times of the day like the early morning hours before everything gets moving or it might be sitting with an old dear friend over a cup of tea with that sense of being at home or maybe for a mother after a long day of much doing, just hanging out while one’s child naps peacefully. All different moments in a day that are, in their own way, “special” if one simply takes note of what is happening. 

It reminds me that we humans have so many different sides to ourselves – a strong “doing” side, a creative side and then a side that can just be. I think that is why often being at the beach and the ocean, some people find such a letting go and relaxation – especially at the end of the day, when the light is soft and the swimming/sunbathing is over. A huge expansiveness takes over.

Interestingly I have always liked that just being side of myself. It reminds me how much of a dreamer I was when I was young and perhaps that is why meditation was such a natural place for me, but now it is there without the cushion. It is natural for humans to just stop and be. It’s very much part of our nature. 

Feel free to share your thoughts

 

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